Protect Your Baby Against SIDS

Rumors vs. Reality

Rumor vs. Reality
At one time, these things all seemed to be likely SIDS culprits. But experts now know that they don't pose a risk.

Plastic baby mattresses
In the early '90s, a British TV program claimed that mattresses treated with a chemical fire retardant could emit antimony, a gas that in turn could cause SIDS. Several years later, a major study published in the medical journal Lancet showed there was no such link. "Still, it's a good idea to buy a brand-new mattress for each baby you have," says Nancy Maruyama, R.N., a SIDS mom and coexecutive director of the SIDS Alliance of Illinois, in Naperville. That's because cracks in used mattresses may trap germs that cause blood infections and pneumonia.

The DtP vaccine
In the mid-'80s, some experts claimed that the diphtheria vaccine could increase a baby's chances of dying of SIDS. That rumor still makes the rounds today, but most experts now agree the claim is groundless. "There are some rare instances in which a child has a serious or even fatal reaction to a vaccine, but those reactions are not SIDS-related," explains Dr. Marian Willinger, of the NICHD. "In general, immunization protects against SIDS because it makes babies stronger and healthier."

Person-to-person transmission
There's a persistent myth that SIDS is a virus that can spread from one baby to another, or from adults to children. SIDS can't be caught, since it is not a disease.

Copyright© 2004. Reprinted with permission from the August 2003 issue of Parents magazine.

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