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Pacifiers Reduce Risk of Sudden Infant Death By 90%

May also attenuate risk from other SIDS-related factors, such as smoke exposure

FRIDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Pacifiers substantially reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), according to a study published online Dec. 9 in the British Medical Journal.

De-Kun Li, M.D., Ph.D., MPH, of Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland, and colleagues, surveyed 185 mothers or carers of infants who died of SIDS. They asked about pacifier use during the last sleep and compared the results with 312 controls matched for race or ethnicity and age. They also obtained information on risk factors for SIDS and other environmental factors related to sleep.

Pacifier use was associated with a 90% reduction in the risk of SIDS, the researchers found, with the risk reduced in all sociodemographic categories and for risk factors examined. They also observed that not using a pacifier increased the risk of SIDS associated with adverse sleeping environments, such as sleeping prone or on the side, sleeping with a mother who smoked, or sleeping on soft bedding.

"Use of a [pacifier] seems to reduce the risk of SIDS and possibly reduces the influence of known risk factors in the sleep environment," Li and colleagues write. "The use of [pacifiers] may be an effective strategy for public health intervention."

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