The National Back-to-Sleep Campaign has concluded an almost 20-year effort to learn how kids sleep and to make sure parents get the message of how to provide safe sleep for infants. According to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Each year in the United States, more than 4,500 infants die suddenly of no immediately obvious cause.” http://www.cdc.gov/SIDS/index.htm
The sad fact is that the rate of sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs) due to unsafe sleep habits and causes, such as suffocation, have continued to climb. SUIDs currently account for 12 infant deaths per day in the United States. Half of the SUIDs are due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).http://www.med.umich.edu/mott/npch/ The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes that suffocation, asphyxia, entrapment, and ill-defined or unspecified causes of death have increased in incidence. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/10/12/peds.2011-2284
The University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott National Children’s Hospital recently issued a report from their study. One of the most common causes, the report notes, for SUIDs is placing babies in sleep areas with soft bedding, such as pillows, soft blankets and stuffed toys. In addition, the C.S. Mott National Children’s Hospital study also included a May 2011 poll of parents that found 89 percent of parents polled believe placing an infant to sleep on his back in a crib is a safe sleep position. 40 Percent of parents polled believed it was still safe for an infant to sleep in the same bed as parents or another person. A similar proportion of parents reported that they “often” or “sometimes” have fallen asleep with their infants, most unintentionally. These findings are somewhat surprising in light of prevailing safe-sleep recommendations.
Even though the Back-to-Sleep Campaign has definitely called the public’s attention to SUIDs, questions now arise about the current sleep habits of families with young children which seem to be common throughout the country. The C.S. Mott poll found 9 out of 10 parents who had heard the safe-sleep message, placed their infants on their backs to sleep. Yet, the poll indicated that one fifth of parents polled still believed it was safe to place an infant on their stomachs to sleep even if the child could not roll over!
The results of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital poll indicate that efforts to ensure children have safe sleep should continue in earnest and that organizations, such as C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, the CDC, and the AAP, as well as physicians and those involved with child wellness, continue to carry the message to parents and the general public that there are certain conditions which contribute to a better and safer sleep for infants and children. The AAP recommends the following things parents can do to reduce the risk of SUIDs and SIDS:
- Place your baby on his back for every sleep.
- Place your baby to sleep on a firm sleep surface.
- Keep soft toys, loose bedding or any object that would increase the risk of entrapment or suffocation of your child, out of the crib!
- Keep the room where your baby sleeps cool; don’t let your baby get too hot.
- Schedule and go to all well-child visits and pediatrician appointments.
- Keep baby away from smoke and smokers to prevent respiratory problems.
- There is scientific support for the fact that breast feeding as long as a mother can is good for the child and may help to reduce the risk of SIDS.