Drink Carefully: SIDS Rates Spike on New Year's Day

Most of us toast the new year with a glass or two of bubbly. But if you're a parent of a newborn, there's good reason to keep your drinking in check this weekend: The number of babies who die of SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, increases by a whopping 33 percent on New Year’s Day. The suspected reason? A parent or caregiver drinks too much and isn’t as mindful of baby, according to a study published in the journal Addiction.

The study
, led by sociologist David Phillips of the University of California, San Diego, examined nearly 130,000 SIDS cases from 1973 to 2006. To determine a connection between overindulging and SIDS, researchers cross-referenced the dates the babies died with dates from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System when people typically drink more (like New Year's Eve or the weekend). While UCSD researchers can't prove the link between alcohol consumption and the babies' deaths -- since cases don't document whether a parent or babysitter drank beforehand -- they believe the circumstantial evidence is strong.

The study offered three possible scenarios where excessive drinking could lead to SIDS: One, moms and dads (or babysitters) are a little tipsy and don’t put their babies to sleep on their backs. Two, inebriated parents or caregivers aren't as attentive to baby’s signs of distress at night. And three, co-sleeping parents who drink alcohol unknowingly roll over and crush baby.

Any way you look at it, it's probably a good idea for parents of infants to limit their drinking -- especially on New Year's Eve.

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