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To avoid sleep-related infant deaths, health authorities recommend the supine position even for preterm babies. Likewise, a baby’s sleep area should be free from objects that could potentially cause strangulation or suffocation including soft pillows, stuffed toys, and bumpers.
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Around 3,500 babies in the United States continue to die in their sleep each year despite the implementation of a nationwide safe sleep campaign, reveals the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When the “Back to Sleep” campaign was launched by the CDC in the 1990s, the number of sleep-related deaths dropped sharply signaling a significant improvement.
However, declines have cooled down since then, with recent data showing that thousands of babies are still dying due to sudden infant death syndrome, accidental suffocation, and other unidentifiable causes.
“Unfortunately, too many babies in this country are lost to sleep-related deaths that might be prevented,” says CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. in a statement “We must do more to ensure every family knows the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations.”
U.S. Mothers Still Practice Unsafe Sleep Positioning, Data Reveals
CDC’s Vital Signs report shows data gathered through the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, a surveillance system that recorded behaviors and experiences of American mothers before, during, and after their pregnancy.
It involves participants from different states who have given live birth from the late 1980s to 2015, and information was obtained through self-reporting.
Based on 2015 data, 22 percent of mothers reported placing their baby on his or her side and stomach to sleep while 39 percent used unrecommended soft bedding for their child’s sleep area.
The report also reveals that nearly half of American caregivers lack proper education on sleep safety, with 20 percent reporting they were not given any advice and 25 percent claiming to have received incorrect advice.
CDC Urges Mothers To Follow AAP Guidelines For Safe Sleep
To reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related deaths among babies, the AAP recommends the supine position even for young infants.
While skin to skin contact is vital during early infanthood, a session should only last for an hour. Mothers should afterward place their infants in a bassinet, on their backs, and not on their stomach or sides.
This position, according to the AAP, lessens the risk of choking and aspiration even in babies with gastroesophageal reflux.
Babies should also sleep on firm surfaces covered only by a fitted sheet with no other bedding or soft objects. When a child is placed on the surface, a firm material should retain its shape and not conform to the shape of the baby’s head or body.
Furthermore, a baby’s sleep area should be free from pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, and other similar soft objects. If a mattress cover is needed for wetness protection, it should be thin and tight-fitting.
Sharing of beds is discouraged as this practice increases an infant’s risk of entrapment or suffocation. Portable bed rails are also considered as dangerous as they can cause strangulation. Mothers can share a room with their babies, but their children must be put to sleep on a different surface.
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