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Not All Moms Place Baby to Sleep on Back Every Time

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CLEVELAND CLINIC - Sudden Unexplained Infant Death, or ‘SIDS’ is the leading cause of death of babies under the age of one in the United States.

Current recommendations call for infants to be placed to sleep on their back at all times to lessen the risk of SIDS.

However, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many babies are still placed in unsafe sleep environments.

The CDC report says that there are approximately 3,500 sleep-related deaths among infants each year in the U.S.

Likewise, a recent survey by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that less than half of moms place their baby on their back to sleep every time.

Of the 3,297 mothers that were surveyed, three-quarters reported that they intended to place their babies to sleep on their back every time, however, less than half actually did.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, between 2011 and 2014, there were 6,683 infant deaths reported from SIDS, and 3,029 infant deaths from accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.

Eva Kubiczek-Love, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s did not take part in the survey, but said placing a baby anywhere other than on their back to sleep is dangerous. 

“Studies have shown that when children are not consistently placed on their back and are switched from being on their back to either a side or being on their belly, they’re actually at an increased risk for adverse consequences,” said Dr. Kubiczek-Love.

Dr. Kubiczek-Love said the best way to remember the guidelines is to think ‘ABC.’

This means that a baby should be placed alone, on their back and in their crib.

And Dr. Kubiczek-Love said it’s important that everyone who cares for the baby, not just mom, to know what’s safe and what isn’t.  She said parents need to communicate the safe sleep guidelines to everyone who cares for their child and make sure they abide by them each and every time.

“It’s important to communicate that, because different people have different notions based on what they think is best or what they grew up with, what is defined as safe sleep,” said Dr. Kubiczek-Love. “If we can just review that ‘ABC’ pneumonic with them, then we know we’ll be able to carry on that message.” 

Dr. Kubiczek-Love also pointed out that the safest place for baby to sleep is in a crib approved by government standards. Items such as bassinettes, Moses baskets, and family heirlooms are not regulated and are not recommended for safe sleep.

“It’s important to understand that cribs are regulated, so the slat size or the distance between those two pieces of wood is fixed, but bassinettes are not regulated,” said Dr. Kubiczek-Love. “It’s important for parents to look for a breathable environment for children to sleep in.”

And just because specialty baby stores sell items for the crib such as bumpers, blankets, and stuffed animals, it doesn’t mean that they are safe. Dr. Kubiczek-Love said baby’s crib should have nothing more than a mattress and a fitted sheet.  Complete results of the survey can be found in the journal Pediatrics.

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