SIDS Surges by 33 Percent on New Year’s Day, Alcohol May Be to Blame

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A new large scale study found that the number of babies who die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) spikes on New Year’s Day, surging by 33 percent. And alcohol consumption by caretakers on New Year’s Eve may be to blame. Not exactly happy New Year news. You may want to think twice about too much celebratory champers with a baby in the home — the study, published in the journal Addiction, also found similar, yet not as dramatic, spikes around July 4, another holiday associated with drinking, and April 20 (4/20), a day often celebrated with cannabis.

The SIDS study, led by sociologist David Phillips of the University of California, San Diego, examined 129,090 SIDS cases from 1973 to 2006. It’s the first large-scale US study to look at a possible link between SIDS and alcohol. Though the results can’t pinpoint alcohol consumption as a definitive SIDS cause, Phillips and his team also found that both SIDS and alcohol consumption increase every weekend. And a startling stat — babies of mothers who drink are more than twice as likely to die of SIDS.

SIDS has decreased significantly since the “Back to Sleep” campaign was introduced in 1994, which stresses the importance of placing babies on their backs to sleep, along with other safe-sleep recommendations such as keeping stuffed toys, pillows and blankets away from your sleeping baby. We also know that SIDS increases in winter months, likely due to parents who over-bundle their babies, which may cause them to overheat, and 25 percent of SIDS babies are found with their heads covered according to Pediatrics.

It’s important to stick to safe-sleep recommendations to reduce the risk of SIDS, and this could be the problem with parents who imbibe. “We know that when people are under the influence of alcohol their judgments are impaired and they are not as good at performing tasks. This would include care-taking,” Phillips said. This study is a striking reminder to always follow SIDS prevention tips no matter what day of the year it is that you’re putting baby to sleep.

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