Researchers at UC San Diego looked at 130,000 SIDS cases from 1973-2006 and found a disturbing trend: SIDS deaths peak on New Year's Day.
The researchers speculate it is because the parents and/or caretakers are consuming too much alcohol on New Year's Eve and are not as diligent to put their babies on their back to sleep in their crib. They also report parents are more likely to fall asleep with their baby on couches and roll on top of them. Many parents are also using babysitters for New Year's Eve who may not know the importance of placing babies to sleep on their backs.
Besides New Year's Day, they also found that overall SIDS deaths increase on weekends and the day after July 4th.
"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 caretaking," says UCSD sociology professor David Phillips. "The 'Back to Sleep' campaign was largely successful. A similar campaign might now be implemented: There should be increased efforts to inform caretakers that alcohol impairs parental capacity and might be a risk factor for SIDS."
What babies are at risk?
SIDS, which is when a seemingly healthy baby dies in their sleep, is the leading cause of death for babies' age one month to one year. In fact, 2, 500 babies die each year of SIDS in the Unites States alone. The number of SIDS cases has decreased dramatically since 1994 with the "Back to Sleep" campaign -- parents are instructed to place baby on their back to sleep.
Protecting your baby
What can you do to protect your baby from SIDS? Follow this checklist to ensure your baby is protected against SIDS. If you have a babysitter on New Year's Eve or any other night, go over this checklist with your caretaker.
- Back to sleep: Place your baby on his or her back to sleep. It is the safest position for your child.
- Nothing in crib except baby: Keep crib clear of stuffed animals, blankets and pillows. You can use a sleep sack to keep baby warm.
- No smoking in the house: Secondhand smoke in the house increases SIDS risk.
- Do not use sleep positioners. They have been found to be dangerous for babies.
- Don't overbundle baby: Don't dress baby too warm when sleeping. Let your comfort level in the house be the guide.
- Use a fan: Especially during the summer, use a fan in the nursery to help circulate the air and keep it cool.
- If you or your spouse plan on drinking, designate a sober caretaker for your child
- Never sleep with your baby in a bed or on the sofa -- especially if you have been drinking.
Read more on SIDS prevention