Magazine article The Nation's Health

Report: Health Providers Can Help Keep Babies Safe in Sleep

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Report: Health Providers Can Help Keep Babies Safe in Sleep

Article excerpt

Declines in baby sleep deaths have slowed, but health care providers can help save little lives, according to a new report.

About 3,500 babies die of sleep-related causes each year in the U.S. And while that number is a substantial drop from the 1990s, when back-sleeping was first recommended for babies, the decline has stalled. A January Vital Signs report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows that providers can educate parents to help reduce risks.

Unsafe sleep practices can increase the risk of sleep-related infant deaths, such as accidental suffocation or strangling in bed and sudden infant death syndrome. To prevent injury and death, the report said providers can share four main safe sleep practices with caregivers and parents: placing babies on their backs; keeping loose bedding, bumper pads and soft toys out of babies' sleeping areas; keeping babies in their own beds in parents' rooms; and using a warm sleeping surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib.

Despite recommendations, many caregivers are not following safe sleep practices. The report showed that 1 in 5 mothers reported that they did not place their babies on their backs to sleep, and 2 in 5 mothers reported that they used soft bedding when they placed their babies to sleep.

Age and race played a role in the mothers' performances of safe sleep practices. According to data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, young mothers were not using recommended guidelines as much as older mothers. Thirty percent of mothers ages 19 and younger did not place babies on their back to sleep, compared with 19 percent of mothers ages 25 and older. Eighty-four percent of American Indian or Alaska Native mothers, 77 percent of black and Asian or Pacific Islander mothers, 67 percent of Hispanic mothers and 53 percent of white mothers practiced bed sharing.

According to information from CDC, experts say that "room sharing is much safer then bed sharing and may decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent."

The report showed a number of ways to encourage safe sleep practices for babies. …

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