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Research Shows Infants Still Sleeping with Bedding, Despite SIDS Risk

SIDS Statistics

More than half of American parents continue to use soft bedding for their sleeping babies, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed the results of the National Infant Sleep Position survey and found nearly 19,000 parents of children younger than 8 months who were contacted by phone and answered questions about their baby’s sleep environment. Most were white mothers, nearly half with a college education, and about half had a previous child, according to the study.

The most common use of bedding occurred among teen mothers, more than 80 percent used bedding. Not having a college education and younger mothers in general were also linked to more frequent use of bedding. Minority mothers were more likely than white mothers to use soft bedding, the study reported.

The study found about 70 percent of the infants sleeping with soft bedding were on adult beds and/or sharing a sleeping surface with someone else.

Researchers found that the use of bedding for infants declined from an average of 86 percent between 1993 and 1995 to an average of 55 percent between 2008 and 2010. Most of that decline, however, occurred before 2000.

In 1996, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated a recommendation on sleeping positions for babies, advising that they sleep on their back on firm surfaces without any soft bedding like blankets or quilts, which may pose a suffocation risk.

The findings were reported online Dec. 1 in Pediatrics.

Infants should be placed to sleep alone, on their backs, on a firm sleep surface, such as in a mattress in a safety-approved crib External Web Site Policy, covered by a fitted sheet. Soft objects, toys, crib bumpers, quilts, comforters and loose bedding should be kept out of the baby’s sleep area.

“Soft bedding has been shown to increase the risk of SIDS. Soft objects and loose bedding — such as thick blankets, quilts and pillows — can obstruct an infant’s airway and impose suffocation risk,” said lead author Carrie Shapiro-Mendoza, a senior scientist in the Maternal and Infant Health Branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Parents have good intentions but may not understand that blankets, quilts and pillows increase a baby’s risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation.”

SIDS, the third leading cause of death for infants in the U.S., is defined by the CDC as “the sudden death of an infant less than 1 year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted, including a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and a review of the clinical history.”

“The safest place for a baby to sleep is on his back, in a crib or bassinet in the parent’s or caregiver’s room,” Shapiro-Mendoza said.

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