A majority of U.S. infants sleep with unsafe bedding

Dec. 16, 2014—Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) rates have dropped since the 1994 launch of the Safe to Sleep campaign by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, SIDS remains the top cause of death among babies between 1 month and 1 year old, and the majority of infants still sleep with unsafe bedding that can increase SIDS risk, according to new findings reported in Pediatrics.

About the study

From 1993 to 2010, nearly 19,000 infant caregivers participated in the National Infant Sleep Position Survey via telephone. The survey sought to collect data on infant sleeping practices that increase the risk for SIDS or unintentional sleep-related suffocation, such as infant sleeping position, sleeping location and use of hazardous bedding.

More than 85 percent of caregivers reported using potentially hazardous bedding—such as pillows, quilts or comforters—before the Safe to Sleep campaign launched. Though use of hazardous bedding declined in the years afterwards, nearly 55 percent of infants were still sleeping with unsafe blankets or pillows at the end of the study. Current recommendations advise placing babies on firm, safety-approved mattresses with just a fitted sheet and no loose bedding.

Despite safety recommendations, the findings suggest that many parents receive mixed messages about the best infant bedding—such as media images that portray infants sleeping in potentially hazardous bedding. Parents might also feel obligated to use blankets or quilts to keep infants warm or because they received the items as baby gifts, researchers said.

Learn more about these findings on the Pediatrics website .
The take-home message

The majority of U.S. caregivers still use potentially hazardous bedding in infants’ cribs, which can increase the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. To help keep your infant safe during naps and while sleeping at night, always follow these Safe to Sleep recommendations:

Place infants to sleep on their backs. This position carries the lowest SIDS risk. Sleeping on the stomach or side is associated with the highest risk for SIDS.
Use a firm sleep surface. Place the infant to sleep in a safety-approved crib, bassinet or portable play area. Avoid soft surfaces: Sleeping surfaces like couches, pillows or waterbeds may allow the baby’s head to sink.
Keep loose bedding and soft objects out of the crib. Blankets, quilts, comforters, pillows, stuffed animals and crib bumpers can increase the risk for suffocation, overheating and strangulation.
Don’t let infants get too hot. Light sleep clothing without a blanket is usually enough to keep a baby warm while sleeping. Babies who get too warm may be unable to wake themselves up—a problem that may play a role in SIDS.
Share your room with your infant. However, your baby should sleep in his or her own crib or bassinet. Babies who sleep in adult beds have a higher risk of SIDS.
Avoid products that claim to lower SIDS risk. Wedges, positioners and other products that make this claim have not been tested for safety.

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