For new parents, the holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate the season and spend time with family and friends. It is the time of year that we get to ring in the new year and look forward to the promise and hope of the what the next twelve months will bring, but it can also be a time of debauchery and excess.

SIDS and New Year's Day

One awful but sobering statistic linked to New Year's Day is that there is also a spike in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In fact, SIDS increases by as much as 33% on the first day of the year. The diagnosis of SIDS is given only when all other possible causes of death have been ruled out.

Health experts cite the consumption of alcohol by caretakers the night before as the possible reason for this shift, which is greater than the normal winter increase in SIDS.

The overall rate of SIDS has in fact declined since 1994, which coincides with the start of the "Back to Sleep" campaign, which encourages parents and caregivers to employ safe sleeping measures, most notably putting infants to sleep on their backs. However, the disturbing spike on New Year's Day has caused doctors to take notice.

The Link to Alcohol

In what is considered the first large-scale study to investigate the possible link between SIDS and alcohol consumption, researchers documented 129,090 SIDS cases that occurred over the course of 33 years (1973-2006). They found that in addition to New Year's Day, SIDS increases on weekends and on special occasions that are associated with drinking (such as Independence Day), and babies of mothers who drink regularly are twice as likely to die of SIDS.

To discount the possibility of parents over-sleeping, scientists looked at the Fall season when daylight savings begins and saw no increase in the rate of SIDS. The authors of the study, published in the journal Addiction, acknowledge that they cannot make a definitive statement as to whether alcohol alone was responsible for the shift in SIDS, or whether it acted in conjunction with other risk factors.

Play It Safe

There is no disputing the fact that alcohol alters our behavior, and can in turn affect a person's judgment as well as their ability to perform routine tasks, especially important ones. If you are the parent of a newborn, maybe it is worth it to consider a different approach to the end of the year. Instead of taking part in the same tired old New Year's Eve routines, take a break from drinking and stay sober. There is no doubt you'll find it interesting to see your circle of friends drunk while you are sober.

Best of all, you'll feel so much better the next day, and you can wake up and ring in the new year feeling good that you made the right decision and did what was best for you and your baby.

Besides, your family and friends would welcome a designated driver, and the reality is, you do not need alcohol to have fun. If anything, alcohol decreases the enjoyment of the three wonderful activities that parents should never take for granted: food, sex, and sleep.

Have a Happy New Year

So enjoy the holidays responsibly, and from all of us at Parenting Squad, have a happy and safe new year!

If you have questions or concerns about SIDS, talk to your pediatrician. For more information about SIDS, visit the website for the American SIDS Institute.

See Also: