Risk for infant sleep-related deaths persists

CDC offers refresher on safe-sleep practices for infants

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About 3,500 sleep-related infant deaths occur each year in the Unites States, including those from sudden infant death syndrome, accidental suffocation, and unknown causes.

That's according to new information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which saw sharp declines in sleep-related deaths during the 1990s after the national Back to Sleep safe sleep campaign, now called Safe to Sleep, debuted. However, this progress has slowed since the late 1990s, and data reported in a new CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and related Vital Signs report showed the risk for infant sleep-related deaths persists.

"Unfortunately, too many babies in this country are lost to sleep-related deaths that might be prevented," said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. "We must do more to ensure every family knows the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations — babies should sleep on their backs, without any toys or soft bedding, and in their own crib. Parents are encouraged to share a room with the baby, but not the same bed. These strategies will help reduce the risk and protect our babies from harm."

Data on unsafe sleepThe CDC examined 2015 data reported by mothers on non-supine sleep positioning, bed-sharing and use of soft bedding (pillows, blankets, bumper pads, stuffed toys and sleep positioners) from states with available data. Among states included in that analysis:

About 22 percent of mothers reported placing their baby to sleep on his or her side or stomach.

More than 61 percent reported bed-sharing with their baby.

About 39 percent of mothers reported using soft bedding in the baby's sleep area.

The percentage of mothers who reported placing their baby on his or her side or stomach to sleep varied by state, ranging from about 12 percent in Wisconsin to about 34 percent in Louisiana.

Placing babies on their side or stomach to sleep was more common among mothers who were non-Hispanic black, younger than age 25, or had 12 or fewer years of education.

Online American Academy of Pediatrics: pediatrics.aappublications.org

Safe to Sleep: www1.nichd.nih.gov

Source: American Academy of Family Physicians: aafp.org
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