Pediatrics Group Issues Sudden Infant Death Prevention Guidelines
In October, the American
Academy of Pediatrics issued revised recommendations to its year 2000 guidelines
on the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. The Academy took
this action because it recognizes that although SIDS deaths have decreased in the past 10
years, SIDS is still the leading cause of infant deaths beyond the newborn
period in the United States.
Among the recommendations:
► Have babies sleep on their backs, not
their stomachs or sides. Side sleeping, the Academy states, is unstable and
increases the chance that babies will roll over onto their stomachs. Every
caregiver should use the back-sleeping position at all times for sleep.
► Avoid bed sharing. Being in the
parents’ bed for comfort and nursing is recommended, but research indicates that
babies who sleep in the same bed with their parents are at higher risk of SIDS.
► Have babies sleep near you. Research
shows that babies who sleep in the same room as their parents, but in cribs or
bassinets, have a reduced risk of SIDS. If your baby doesn’t sleep in your room,
be sure he or she is very near, so you can hear any signs of distress.
► Encourage pacifier use at naps and at
bedtime. For infants who are breastfeeding, parents should wait one month before
introducing pacifiers, in order to get the baby comfortable with nursing. Some
parents have been concerned that pacifier use makes breastfeeding more difficult
and that it causes dental complications later on. But the Academy states that
the benefits of pacifier use outweigh the risks.
Other recommendations that
the Academy has made include:
► Use a firm crib
mattress covered with a sheet as your baby’s sleep surface.
► Keep soft objects
and loose bedding out of the crib.
► To avoid the flattening at the back of
the head that is common when babies spend too much time on their back, encourage
“tummy time.” When babies are awake, put them on their stomachs regularly.
Additionally, avoid excessive time in car-seat carriers and similar seats.
Risk factors for SIDS
The following are SIDS risk
- Sleeping while lying on
- Sleeping on a soft
- Maternal smoking during
- Allowing the baby to
become too hot
- Receiving no prenatal
care or receiving only late prenatal care
- Being a very young
mother at the time of birth
- Being born before due
- Having low birth weight
- Being male
The American Academy of Pediatrics; Pediatrics. 2005;116:1245-1255;