Breastfeeding for just two months reduces a baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome by 40%, according to a new study.
The research looked at eight studies examining more than 2,200 SIDs cases and over 6,800 cases of infants who survived.
The case control study, published in Pediatrics, analysed data between living and deceased infants.
Any breastfeeding – exclusive or combined with formula – for two to four months reduced risk by 40%.
Extended duration had further benefits with breastfeeding for four to six months reducing risk by 60%.
Breastfeeding for longer than six months reduced SIDS risk by 64%.
However, the research found that breastfeeding for less than two months didn’t offer protection.
This is the first study looking at the duration of breastfeeding needed for this protective effect.
Previous studies have found breastfeeding can reduce babies’ risk of SIDS.
The HSE describes SIDS as the ‘sudden and unexpected death of a seemingly healthy baby during sleep.’
Experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the baby’s first six months.
Breastfeeding has been found to have multiple benefits including reduced risk of ear and respiratory infections, allergies, and diabetes.
In Ireland, just over 55% of babies are breastfed on discharge from hospital. This figure drops to 39% after three months.