Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Korea's Fan-Death Theory Disproven?

Fan Use Prevents SIDS?
(Image from APAM)

All my valiant efforts to defend Korea's Fan-Death Theory may be for naught if a new study is bourne out by the evidence.

A study conducted by Kimberly Coleman-Phox (MPH), Roxana Odouli (MSPH), and De-Kun Li (MD, PhD), "Use of a Fan During Sleep and the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome," published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Vol. 162 No. 10, October 2008, offers the following conclusion:
Fan use may be an effective intervention for further decreasing SIDS risk in infants in adverse sleep environments.
For those readers who enjoy perusing statistics, here are the 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.
In clearer English, the article says:
Rebreathing exhaled carbon dioxide trapped by bedding near an infant's airway has been suggested as a possible mechanism for the occurrence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Increased air movement in the room of a sleeping infant may potentially decrease the accumulation of carbon dioxide around the infant's nose and mouth and decrease the likelihood of rebreathing exhaled gas. In this case-control study of 185 infants with confirmed SIDS, fan use during sleep was associated with a 72% reduction in the risk of SIDS. The reduction in the risk of SIDS appeared more pronounced in warmer rooms, for infants placed in a prone or side sleeping position, and for those who did not use a pacifier or who shared a bed. Use of a fan in the room of a sleeping infant is an easily available means of possibly further reducing SIDS risk.
I haven't read the entire article because one needs a subscription, but two factors were studied, as indicated by "Intervention":
Fan use and open window during sleep.
I have to assume that these two factors were studied separately; otherwise, the study is fatally flawed, for if a fan were on all night in a room with an open window, then the significant factor could be the open window, and Korea's Fan-Death Theory would remain undisproven.

Perhaps I can try to access the article from a university computer later today.

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At 7:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recall reading a review about cosmological theories. The writer stated that there seem to be almost as many theories as cosmologists, and each will fight for their favorite view as a mother for her child. (Not an exact quote, but close).
Our favorite blogperson seems to be of this type of persuasion in regards to possible 'fan death.'
I would suggest that he give it up, but then that would eliminate a lot of humorous comments.
Go ahead, no attention to agnostics such as I....
{as if you need any encouragement}!

At 7:32 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Giving up belief in fan death would mean giving up my reason for living.

If fan death were 'disproven', I would lock myself into a room with the windows closed, turn on a fan, and sleep until the fan killed me.

A martyr for the cause . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait... what? You mean sleeping with a fan on can help save lives? My mind has been boggled.

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You need to go to and read the actual study.

Please note that the study mentions only infants. So far as I recall-none of your advisories have ever mentioned infants specifically or generally. Ongoing research indicates that once a person (of either gender) gains the ability to walk, then the danger of SIDS is nearly negligible.

Please further note that "the ability to walk" figures prominently. I have developed a pet theory and am currently testing my hypothesis.

Use of alcohol has proven to impair the ability to walk. I have therefore set out to determine whether consistent use of alcohol (in the form of beer) might be an effective palliative for putting off the nefarious effects of fan death which despite the naysayers, evidence has been shown over and over, convincingly I might add, that fan death is REAL.

Please-do not abandon your public service posts. Walkers the world over depend on Academics and other sorts to keep this real and dangerous phenomenon in the conscious of all humankind.

I will keep you abreast of my research.


At 11:40 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Charles, it certainly is a mind-boggling thing for a mindful blogger to boggle his mind about.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:41 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Fear not, JK. I shall continue to talk the walk.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:42 PM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...

Jeffery, I sat in stunned silence when I read this in the paper today. The very bowels of the earth seemed to shift beneath my feet.

I knew that you would - nay, must - have seen this shattering report, and that it would surely have taken you to the brink of utter cognitive disarray.

You must man the ramparts against this insanity, or our plucky but impulsive species faces almost certain extinction.

We are all counting on you, my friend.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Malcolm, I felt those same bowels shifting but got out of the way before the shift hit the fan.

In short, I have not yet conceded the death of fan death but, indeed, stand more convinced than ever in the rightness of my cause if fan-death disbelievers feel themselves compelled to stoop so low as to subject helpless infants to deadly experiments in vain attempt to prove their point!

I swear that I shall continue to tilt like a mole-backed Quixote at the windmilling fans of death.

Jeffery Hodges

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