Let My Baby Sleep Safety

SIDS deaths have reduced but sleep dangers remain

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that all babies be placed on their back to sleep. Since then, deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) have declined dramatically.

But infant sleep-related deaths from other causes have increased, and the need for continued public education programs on safe sleeping for babies is vital.

"Learn safe sleeping positions for babies."

Even though previous education campaigns, like the successful "Back to Sleep" program, have resulted in a 50 percent reduction of SIDS, it is still the leading cause of death for children under one year of age. And other sleep-related deaths, such as suffocation, entrapment and asphyxia, have increased.

In a new study that reviewed 91 deaths of babies under a year old in New Mexico between 2006 and 2010, researchers found that 52 percent of the infants had been placed to sleep in an unsafe non-supine position, and 71 percent had been sleeping on an unsafe surface. Half of the deaths were in a shared sleep surface.

Lead author Jessica Black said that despite the success of sleep awareness campaigns, many of today's SIDS cases involve bed sharing and infants being put to sleep in places outside of a crib or bassinet.

"Continued educational efforts on safe sleep practices for infants are essential in the efforts to prevent these infant deaths” she wrote.

To improve safe environments for infants and reduce the risk of all sleep-related infant deaths, APA just expanded its guidelines on safe sleep for babies. Three important additions include:

  • Breastfeeding is recommended and is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS.
  • Infants should be immunized. Evidence suggests that immunization reduces the risk of SIDS by 50 percent.
  • Bumper pads should not be used in cribs. There is no evidence that bumper pads prevent injuries, and there is a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.

The guidelines also recommend placing a baby on his back to sleep every time, always using a firm sleep surface, no bed-sharing, keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib, and avoid covering the infant's head.

“We have tried to make it easier for parents and providers to understand the recommendations by providing specific answers to common questions,” said Rachel Moon, MD, chair of the AAP SIDS task force and lead author of the new guidelines.

“There needs to be more education for health care providers and trainees on how to prevent suffocation deaths and to reduce SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths – our goal is to ultimately eliminate these deaths completely.” 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 19, 2011
Last Updated:
October 19, 2011