The new American Academy of Pediatrics policy on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for the first time recommends breastfeeding as lowering the risk of SIDS.
CNN reports (in an article mostly about crib bumpers):
Dr. Moon explains that as of the most recent policy statement in 2005, the AAP didn't have enough evidence to associate breastfeeding with a reduced risk of SIDS, although the connection had been established between breastfeeding and a lower risk of infant mortality overall, but since then, "there have been several studies that have come out that have demonstrated pretty unequivocally that breastfeeding is protective. So, we wanted SIDS risk reduction to be on the list of the many reasons why we should breastfeed."
As of now, medical professionals still don't understand exactly how breastfeeding helps to lower risk of SIDS, and Moon explains that it may have to do with "anti-inflammatory properties of breastfeeding, or it may have to do with the fact that breastfeeding decreases infections in babies, because we know that babies who die of SIDS are more likely to have had a recent infection. It could be a whole host of things, and there are researchers that are looking at that."
The policy also states: "The protective effect of breastfeeding increases with exclusivity. However, any breastfeeding has been shown to be more protective against SIDS than no breastfeeding."
How much protection are we talking about? One of the studies cited wast this meta-analysis released this year, found:
The rate of SIDS was 60 percent lower among infants who had any amount of breastfeeding compared to those who were not breastfed.
The rate of SIDS was more than 70 percent lower in infants that been breastfed exclusively for any period of time.