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A Kaiser Permanente study released this week showed that using a fan on a sleeping baby can reduce the instance of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, by 72 percent.

Other techniques that have already been shown to decrease the risk of SIDS include having babies sleep on their backs, instead of on their stomachs or sides, removing soft bedding from their sleeping area, giving them a pacifier, and having them sleep in separate beds from other children. In light of their newest findings, Kaiser is now recommending the use of a fan together with these other techniques.

The study, conducted by the Division of Research of Kaiser Permanente Northern California, included 497 infants, and 185 SIDS death cases, in 11 California counties.

Researchers still don’t know exactly what causes SIDS, but these results suggest that inhaling too much carbon dioxide may have something to do with it. A fan blowing air over a sleeping baby keeps reduces the amount of carbon dioxide a baby breathes in by circulating exhaled air around the room.

According to the American SIDS institute, though the number of SIDS deaths has decreased by more than 50% in the past decade, there are still about 2,500 in the United States every year.

As with other SIDS recommendations, it is important to consult with your pediatrician before using a fan on your sleeping baby.

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