Calgary

SIDS linked to smoking, co-sleeping and over-wrapping, Calgary study finds

Exposure to cigarette smoke, over-wrapping or co-sleeping can cause higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), researchers at the University of Calgary have found.

Study examines cumulative effect of smoke exposure, high temperatures, and exposure to infection

Sarah Cormier supports research and awareness after her four-month-old daughter Quinn Isla died of SIDS in 2014 (Mario De Ciccio/CBC)

Exposure to cigarette smoke, over-wrapping or co-sleeping can cause higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), researchers at the University of Calgary have found.

The study, conducted on animals, found the group exposed to smoke during pregnancy were at a higher risk of infection when they were born. 

They also had increased risk of overheating and suffocating when they wore too much clothing.

There were similar negative impacts to heart rate and breathing when conditions mimicking co-sleeping and over-wrapping were used in the non-smoking group.

SIDS is the leading cause of infant death, with an average of one fatality per 2,000 babies born in Canada. 
A photo of baby Quinn Isla, who abruptly died of SIDS in 2014. (Mario De Ciccio/CBC)

"For us it's just really important that research is still happening and SIDS is talked about," said Sarah Cormier, an Airdrie mother whose daughter, Quinn Isla, died of SIDS at the age of four months in 2014.

"If we can prevent one death, I feel like that is so beneficial. It brings to light that SIDS still happens."

She said many people reacted with disbelief about the existence of SIDS when they learned about the death of her daughter.

"These babies can't be forgotten. Research needs to continue."

Study author Dr. Shabih Hasan says his findings emphasize the importance of advocating for a safe sleep environment for babies.

He stressed avoiding over-wrapping infants, setting a reasonable room temperature, avoiding co-bedding, not smoking, and allowing babies to sleep on their backs — also recommended by The Canadian Paediatric Society.

The study findings were recently published in the journal American Journal of Physiology.

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