For aeons, new mothers have been wrapping their tiny babies into tight burrito-like bundles in order to calm them down--and get them to nod off more quickly. And while swaddling fell out of fashion for a while here in the U.S., it's been making a comeback, in part thanks to doctors who tout the technique as a good way to bridge a newborn's transition from womb to world.
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Experts may want to rethink the strategy--or at least apply more caveats to it. A new study published in Pediatrics has found that swaddling increases the risk of babies dying of SIDs--by as much as a one-third.
Swaddling carries the most risk if babies are sleeping on their tummies or side--then the rate doubles, researchers found. If babies sleep on their backs, there's still a link, albeit a smaller one. The chances of dying of sudden infant death syndrome also went up if the babies who were still being wrapped up were older than 6 months.
The researchers pointed out that their data was limited--so they aren't banning swaddling for all babies. If you're concerned about any newborn you care for, talk to the pediatrician, and remember to always put babies under 1 year to sleep on their backs.
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