An interesting commentary (KP Quinlan. JAMA Pediatrics; 2018; 172: 714-6) points out the need for better surveillance and prevention efforts for sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs).
- Since the late 1990s, there has NOT been significant improvement in SUID. In 1999, there were 3716 SUIDs compared with 3684 in 2015.
- This rate of SUID is 9 times the rate of deaths to motor vehicle crashes for an 18 year-old driver. The author notes the driving-related fatalities have declined by ~50% for persons younger than 20 years since 2000.
- Promotion of safer sleeping habits is important. Bed sharing raises the SUID risk but is commonly practiced by parents from all backgrounds.
- There is very little publicity of this problem and there is not a systematic surveillance system. . How often do we here about a teenager involved in a crash and how often do we here about an infant with SUID? If there was more awareness of this danger, it is likely that there would be more actions taken
Useful website: Charlieskids.org This website has a book called “Sleep Baby Safe and Snug” which incorporates updated recommendations on safe sleep practices.
Children should sleep in the same room but on a separate surface from their parents for at least the first six months of their lives, and ideally the first year. They say that this can halve the risk of SIDS…You can read the AAP’s full guidance here. These are a few more of the pediatricians’ recommendations:
- Infants under a year old should always sleep lying on their backs. Side sleeping “is not safe and is not advised,” the AAP says.
- Infants should always sleep on a firm surface covered by only a flat sheet. That’s because soft mattresses “could create a pocket … and increase the chance of rebreathing or suffocation if the infant is placed in or rolls over to the prone position.”
- Any other bedding or soft objects, like pillows or stuffed animals, could obstruct a child’s airway and increase the risk of SIDS and suffocation, according to the AAP.
- The pediatricians say breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS.
- The same goes for pacifiers at nap time and bedtime, although the doctors say the “mechanism is yet unclear.” They add that “the protective effect is observed even if the pacifier falls out of the infant’s mouth.”
- Smoking – both during pregnancy and around the infant after birth – can increase the risk of SIDS. Alcohol and illicit drugs during pregnancy can also contribute to SIDS, and “parental alcohol and/or illicit drug use in combination with bed-sharing places the infant at particularly high risk of SIDS,” the pediatricians say.