Fans may reduce cot death risk

Keeping a fan on while a baby sleeps could dramatically cut the risk of cot death, new research suggests.

Experts found that putting a fan on could cut the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by 72% compared with not doing so.

When the temperature was over 21 degrees Celsius, placing a baby in a room with a fan led to a 94% drop in the chance he or she would die.

Researchers said it was the first time such evidence had been brought to light.

Around 300 babies aged under 12 months die each year in Britain. Cot death is more likely to affect boys, premature babies and those with a low birth weight.

The latest study involved interviews with the mothers of 185 babies who had died from SIDS and those of 312 randomly-selected babies, all from California.

Mothers were asked about several factors, including use of an electric fan or open window in the room at the baby's last sleep, use of a dummy, the location of the room, bed surface, bedding, the number and type of covers over the baby, and room temperature.

The findings were published in the Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, a journal of the American Medical Association.

They showed that keeping a fan on if the windows were closed led to an 85% reduction in the chance a baby would die. Babies placed on their front or side, known to be more risky for cot death, were also less likely to die if a fan was on in the room.

The authors, from the Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research in Oakland, California, said the fan could perhaps reduce the risk of a baby "rebreathing" accumulated carbon dioxide.

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