Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Three babies die in Ohio in unsafe sleep environments each week, with 819 infant deaths from 2007-2011.  Sleep-related infant deaths occur suddenly and unexpectedly in a sleep environment. They include sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation in sleep environments and undetermined causes. Sleep-related deaths are the leading cause of death between one month and one year of age. All infants in unsafe sleep environments such as those sharing an adult bed are at risk. Providing a clear consistent message encouraging all families to always place their babies to sleep alone, on their back in a safe environment is an important step in reducing infant mortality in Ohio.  Parents and caregivers can reduce the risk of these sudden, unexpected deaths by following the ABCs of safe sleep: Alone, on their Back and in a Crib.

These guidelines will help meet the goal of making sure the sleeping baby’s breathing remains clear and unobstructed, and that the baby does not get into a position that could cause injury. Place your baby on its back to sleep at night and naptime. The safest place for a baby to sleep is in their crib, with a firm mattress and a well fitting sheet. Chairs, sofas, waterbeds, cushions and adult beds are NOT safe places for babies to sleep. Infants may be brought into bed for nursing or comforting, but should be returned to their own crib when the parent is ready for sleep. Sharing your bed with your baby is not recommended. However, there is growing evidence that the infant sleeping in a crib in the parent’s bedroom is associated with a reduction of SIDS. Research, now indicates an association between pacifier use and a reduced risk of SIDS. This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the use of pacifiers at bedtime and throughout the first year of life. Parents and caregivers often worry about the baby developing a flat spot on the back of their heads because of back sleeping. To reduce this risk parents can be encouraged to give their babies “tummy time” and avoiding excessive time in car-seats, carriers and “bouncies”.

For more information visit the Ohio Department of Health’s Infant Safe Sleep website.