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New study reinforces need for continued infant sleep campaigns to prevent SIDS

New research reinforces the need for continued public education programs that encourage parents to place their infants to sleep in the supine (back) position in a safe crib or bassinet, to prevent an estimated 4,600 annual Sudden Unintended Infant Deaths (SUID), of which 50 percent are classified as Sudden Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The abstract, "Retrospective Review of Sleeping Conditions in Infant Deaths in New Mexico," was presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in Boston.

Public health efforts, such as the successful AAP co-sponsored "Back to Sleep" campaign, have resulted in a 50 percent reduction in the SIDS rate. More recently, the Cribs for Kids program provides safe cribs to low-income families, but there is no data to support the programs effect on the rate of SIDS. Despite the success of the "Back to Sleep" campaign, SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants under one year of age.

In the new study, researchers reviewed 91 deaths of children younger than age 1 in New Mexico between 2006 and 2010, of which 59 were SUID/SIDS and 28 were undetermined. Of these, 52 percent of the infants had been placed to sleep in a non-supine position, and 71 percent had been found on an unsafe sleep surface.

A shared sleep surface was the site of death in 50 percent of the cases. Having a crib in the home, however, was not a predictor of safe sleep habits. Of the 71 percent of infants found in an un-safe sleep environment, a crib was present in the home in 57 percent of these cases. In 30 percent of these homes, the crib was being used for another purpose.

"Despite the success of sleeping awareness campaigns, many of the remaining SIDS cases involve prone sleeping and unsafe sleeping environments, such as bed sharing and infants being put to sleep outside of a crib or bassinet," said lead study author Jessica Black. "Continued educational efforts on safe sleep practices for infants are essential in the efforts to prevent these infant deaths."

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit

Susan Martin | EurekAlert!
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