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Many parents put babies at risk of SIDS, study says

Too many babies still placed on stomachs to sleep

For years, Americans have been told the safest place for a baby to sleep is on their backs, but a new study finds many parents aren’t following that advice.

According to the study published this month in the journal Pediatrics, just half of mothers surveyed said they always put their babies to sleep on their backs.

The findings are alarming for physicians who say back-sleeping is a key way to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

We see it all the time, and it is tragic,” said Corwin Warmink, M.D., medical director of the Emergency Department at Cook Children’s Medical Center. “SIDS is responsible for more infant deaths in the United States than anything else during the first year of life.”

While experts don’t know exactly why back-sleeping is best for preventing SIDS, it is believed that babies who sleep on their stomach get less oxygen and retain more carbon dioxide because they are “rebreathing” air. It is also possible that tummy-sleeping can lead to upper airway obstruction and choking.

“Infants should always sleep on their backs in a crib with a firm surface and a tight fitting sheet. No bumpers, pillows or soft bedding should be used,” mentioned Dr. Warmink.

Another big reason infants arrive in Cook Children’s Emergency Department is co-sleeping. While many parents find comfort in sharing a room with their baby, bed-sharing is never recommended.

“New parents are understandably exhausted, but even a quick nap with a newborn can turn deadly,” said Dr. Warmink. “It’s horrible to see a parent lose a child because they were accidently smothered in their sleep. Sharing a bedroom with an infant makes sense, but never on the same sleep surface.”

Dr. Warmink also insists infants should never sleep on a couch, sofa or cushioned chair, even when alone, and especially not with another person.

About Safe Sleep

Tarrant County has one of the highest infant mortality rates among Texas counties–exceeding the national average. The Center for Prevention of Child Maltreatment is guiding a safe infant sleep awareness campaign in collaboration with Baylor All Saints, JPS and Texas Health Harris Methodist. Learn more here.

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