Although rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) have dropped, it is still the leading cause of death among children under one year of age. Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new updated guidelines to help parents avoid such an event.

The Academy now calls for infants to sleep in their parents' bedroom for at least the first six months, as this can reduce risk of SIDS by up to 50 percent. The report also strongly advises against the use of soft bedding, such as blankets and pillows, and instead recommends a crib or bassinet be kept bare with a fitted sheet. In addition, while the Academy recommends breastfeeding because it can reduce the risk of SIDS, it warns that mothers should avoid using pillows, sheets or blankets as these can obstruct the infant's breathing or cause overheating if the mother falls asleep.

SIDS is still the leading cause of death in infants under one year old. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

"We know that parents may be overwhelmed with a new baby in the home, and we want to provide them with clear and simple guidance on how and where to put their infant to sleep," said Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP, lead author of the report in a recent statement.

In addition, the report suggests:

  • Infants be placed on their back on a firm sleep surface
  • Parents should avoid exposing their children to smoke, alcohol, and illicit drugs
  • Infants should receive all their recommended vaccinations
  • Parents should avoid devices and products marketed to reduce risk of SIDS, such as wedges or positioners
  • Infants should be offered a pacifier at nap time and bedtime
  • Parents need to supervise children when they are awake and on their tummy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SIDS is the sudden death of an infant less than 1 year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted. This includes a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and a review of the clinical history. The CDC reports SIDS kills about 1,500 infants under one year old in the U.S. each year.

"We want to share this information in a way that doesn't scare parents but helps to explain the real risks posed by an unsafe sleep environment," added Dr. Moon. "We know that we can keep a baby safer without spending a lot of money on home monitoring gadgets but through simple precautionary measures."

Source: SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. 2016

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