SIDS is down, but you still have to protect your baby
Before becoming a mom, I never imagined that putting my child to sleep could be so dangerous. From the baby's position to the kind of bedding you've chosen for her, everything is a potential hazard. It's no surprise then, that as a first time mom almost six years ago, one of the main reasons I didn't get any sleep the first few weeks wasn't my newborn, but rather my obsession with making sure she was breathing while sleeping.
I know other first time moms worry about the same thing, but the good news is that a new study says that the rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is down. While this is mostly due to the fact that pretty much everybody now knows that back-sleeping is safest, there are still a bunch of things we're doing that present a high risk for SIDS.
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According to the study published yesterday in the journal Pediatrics, two unsafe sleeping habits have "emerged as additional prominent risks." One is letting infants sleep on an adult mattress and the other one is sharing a bed with an adult. Proponents of co-sleeping will surely be up in arms about this, but the reality is that based on analysis of 568 known SIDS deaths in San Diego County from 1991 to 2008, the percentage of infants found in a bed with one or more adults increased from 19.2 percent to 37.9 percent; the percentage found alone on an adult mattress increased from 23.4 percent to 45.4 percent.
While co-sleeping or putting a baby to sleep alone on an adult mattress were not the only factors responsible in these SIDS deaths, experts strongly believe that the risk for SIDS can be dramatically lowered if parents and other caregivers create as safe a sleep environment as possible. In other words, avoid not only putting your baby to sleep on his stomach, but also soft bedding or toys in the crib, covering his head, bed sharing, over bundling, or sleeping on an adult mattress, couch or playpen.
"Children are safest sleeping alone in a safety-approved crib that has a firm mattress and tight-fitting sheets, without blankets, pillows and other soft materials," said Henry Krous, director of Pathology Research at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego and one of the study's authors.
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While SIDS is down, it continues to be the leading cause of death in children between 1 month and 1 year old, resulting in about 2,300 deaths per year. Let's make sure we do everything we can to change this!
Do you co-sleep? Would you stop knowing the risks?
Image via jon.hayes/flickr