It is common for mothers of newborn infants to swaddle their babies in tight blanket wraps to help calm and quiet their babies down. Yet could the risks of swaddling, especially in regard to being associated with sudden infant death, outweigh the benefits and if so, at what age? Pease et al. (10.1542/peds.2015-3275) have opted to do a systematic review and meta-analysis focused on these questions.
Of 283 papers screened, four met the inclusion criteria providing information on swaddling, sleep position, age, and outcome. While one finds heterogeneity amongst the few studies meeting study criteria, the meta-analysis suggests that the older the infant swaddled the greater the risk of sudden infant death—with a two-fold increased risk for babies swaddled over 6 months. Prone and side-sleeping also increased the risk of death in swaddled babies.
The findings gleaned from this meta-analysis are worth your time and attention and our guess is, once you start reading what the authors found, you will give your patients more information about swaddling than you may have ever given before. Wrap yourself up in the information contained in this review article and then share it with parents of your newest patients who may be very thankful you did.