Preventing Accidental Injury.
KDHE Office of Communications
Topeka -- October is SIDS Awareness Month, and Safe Kids Kansas urges parents and caregivers to remember the phrase “back to sleep.” Babies need to sleep on their backs, face up, to minimize the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
SIDS is still not fully understood, but it is estimated that more than 67 percent of sleep related deaths occur in unsafe sleep environments. This is also referred to as SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death). Soft bedding and mattresses have also been linked to more than 100 cases of fatal suffocation in playpens since 1988.
“Babies need to sleep alone, be placed on their back and in a crib,” said Cherie Sage, State Director for Safe Kids Kansas. “The phrase ‘back to sleep’ has saved hundreds of lives. Within 10 years after public health professionals started teaching new parents to lay a baby on his or her back to sleep, the death rate from SIDS was cut in half.”
Most infant suffocation (60 percent) happens in a crib or bed. Babies can suffocate when their faces become wedged against or buried in a mattress, pillow, infant cushion or other soft bedding or when someone in the same bed rolls over onto them.
“It’s tempting to hold your baby in bed with you, but think very carefully about the latest sleeping guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics,” said Sage. “It’s risky to share a bed or sofa with a baby, especially if you’re tired, you’ve been drinking alcohol or you’re taking medication.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced findings in 2005 concluding that the safest place for a baby to sleep is in the same room as a parent, but in a separate crib near the parent’s bed. Sleeping with a baby on a sofa or chair is especially discouraged.
The AAP also found a higher risk of SIDS in babies with a high body temperature and recommends that the air temperature in the nursery should be “comfortable for a lightly clothed adult” and the baby should not be overdressed. Also, there is evidence of a higher risk of SIDS in babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke.
Based on the AAP’s report, Safe Kids Kansas also recommends the following safe sleep guidelines:
Unaccustomed sleep position is also an issue. AAP states parents and child care providers need to be aware that infants who are normally placed to sleep on their backs, who are then placed to sleep on their stomachs to sleep, are as much as 18 times more likely to die from SIDS. Infants who are regularly placed to sleep on their stomachs have a five times greater risk of dying of SIDS than children who are placed to sleep on their backs. Talk to everyone who provides care to your infant, and make it a rule that they should always be placed on their back to sleep. This important conversation needs to take place before the very first day the child is in cared for by the relative, babysitter, or child care provider and should be reinforced by both the parent and other providers on a regular basis. You can find more information about safe sleep in child care at www.safekidskansas.org.
A new safety video and website have been developed to help educate families and caregivers about the ABCs of Safe Sleep. Children should always be placed alone, on their back and in a crib to sleep. The website, www.safesleepkansas.org, includes links to the video (which can also be found on YouTube), a printable brochure and magnet art, and resources for more information. We encourage all new parents and everyone providing care for babies to view this important video.
“It’s worth repeating: lay your baby back to sleep,” said Sage. “The single most powerful step you can take to reduce the risk of SIDS is to make sure babies always sleep on their backs, facing up, on a firm surface without soft objects around.”
For more information about SIDS or SUID, contact the SIDS Network of Kansas at www.sidsks.org, or 866-399-7437. For information about safe sleep recommendations, airway obstruction and nursery safety visit www.usa.safekids.org or www.safekidskansas.org.