Progress has been made in reducing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in the infant population. This is thanks largely to the 18-year campaign originally called Back-To-Sleep, but now entitled Safe-Sleep.
Death by suffocation is by far the number one cause of deaths in infants under one year. Since the Back-to-Sleep campaign began in 1994, infant death rates due to suffocation has been reduced by 50 percent.
The Food and Drug Administration joined forces with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to promote the concept and widen the circle of those practicing this simple technique.
Recently, deaths have occurred as a result of infant sleep positioners (ISPs), advertised as helping to prevent SIDS, but actually serving as the cause of at least 13 deaths. Some ISPs are cleared by the FDA for medical conditions, but should not be used routinely for preventing suffocation.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report (MMWR) detailed the result of using ISPs to help maintain a side-lying position. As the baby begins to move around, it is much more likely that the ISP will serve as an obstacle instead of an aid in maintaining a position.
Since 2005, the American Association of Pediatrics has recommended placing infants on their backs to sleep, to the exclusion of all other postions.
Ten Ways to Lower Chances of SIDS (from the National Institute of Child Health and Development):
- Always place babies on their backs to sleep
- Use safety approved mattresses covered with a fitted sheet; do not place your baby on a quilt, pillow, or other soft material.
- Keep blankets, soft objects, pillows and soft toys away from the bed and away from the baby's face.
- Ban smoking around your baby at times.
- Keep your baby's sleep area near but separate from where you and others sleep. Babies must have their own bed to sleep safely.
- Consider a clean dry pacifier as you put the baby to bed, but don’t force the baby to take it. (If breast feeding, recommendations are to wait until after six months to offer a pacifier.)
- Keep your baby comfortably warm in light sleep clothes (blanket or one-piece sleeper). Don’t overheat the room or overdress your baby.
- Avoid products claiming to reduce the risk of SIDS. Most have not been tested or approved.
- Do not use home monitors to reduce the risk of SIDS. Talk with your health care provider about using a monitor for other health conditions.
- Provide supervised“tummy time” when the baby is awake to reduce the chance of having a flat spot on the back of the head.
With more grandparents, babysitters or childcare providers looking after children as parents return to work, we all need to make an effort to inform more of the population. Young parents are instructed by their health care provider, but details may be forgotten in the rush of routine.
FDA pediatric expert Susan Cummins, M.D., M.P.H, has said that parents and caregivers can create a safe sleep environment for babies if they leave the crib free of pillows, comforters, quilts, toys, and other items.
“The safest crib is a bare crib,” she has been quoted as saying. "Always put your baby on his or her back to sleep. An easy way to remember this is to follow the ABC’s of safe sleep—Alone on the Back in a Bare Crib."
For information on crib safety guidelines, contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 1-800-638-2772 or http://www.cpsc.gov.
Report an incident or injury from an infant sleep positioner to the Consumer Product Safety Commission by visiting www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx or calling 800-638-2772, or to FDA's MedWatch program.