Use of a fan during sleep and the risk of sudden infant death syndrome

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008 Oct;162(10):963-8. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.162.10.963.


Objective: To examine the relation between room ventilation during sleep and risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Design: Population-based case-control study.

Setting: Eleven California counties.

Participants: Mothers of 185 infants with a confirmed SIDS diagnosis and 312 randomly selected infants matched on county of residence, maternal race/ethnicity, and age. Intervention Fan use and open window during sleep. Main Outcome Measure Risk of SIDS.

Results: Fan use during sleep was associated with a 72% reduction in SIDS risk (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 0.28; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.10-0.77). The reduction in SIDS risk seemed more pronounced in adverse sleep environments. For example, fan use in warmer room temperatures was associated with a greater reduction in SIDS risk (AOR, 0.06; 95% CI, 0.01-0.52) compared with cooler room temperatures (0.77; 0.22-2.73). Similarly, the reduction associated with fan use was greater in infants placed in the prone or side sleep position (AOR, 0.14; 95% CI, 0.03-0.55) vs supine (0.84; 0.21-3.39). Fan use was associated with a greater reduction in SIDS risk in infants who shared a bed with an individual other than their parents (AOR, 0.15; 95% CI, 0.01-1.85) vs with a parent (0.40; 0.03-4.68). Finally, fan use was associated with reduced SIDS risk in infants not using pacifiers (AOR, 0.22; 95% CI, 0.07-0.69) but not in pacifier users (1.99; 0.16-24.4). Some differences in the effect of fan use on SIDS risk did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusion: Fan use may be an effective intervention for further decreasing SIDS risk in infants in adverse sleep environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Movements
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Environmental Pollution / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Odds Ratio
  • Posture / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sudden Infant Death / epidemiology*
  • Sudden Infant Death / prevention & control*
  • Ventilation / methods*