Safe Sleep: Reducing The Risk of Sleep-Related Infant Deaths

Safe Sleep: Reducing The Risk of Sleep-Related Infant Deaths

Julie Truran, Clinical Manager – Pediatric Unit

In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended the Back-to-Sleep campaign to encourage parents to place their infants on their backs to sleep. Since then, the rate of infant sleep-related deaths has declined more than 50 percent. However, sleep-related infant deaths still claim more than 3,500 lives in the United States each year. Even one death is too many. These numbers mean there is still more work to be done to protect our infants from a very preventable death.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), was most commonly talked about as the cause of sleep-related deaths in infants. More recently, the term used to describe a sleep-related death is Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUID). This term gives experts more room to classify these deaths more specifically, which has led to modifiable factors that could help to prevent them. The definition of SUID is a death that occurs in a previously healthy infant where there is no obvious cause of death prior to an investigation. Some causes of SUID include:

Sleep-related infant deaths are not predictable, but they are preventable. Following safe sleep practices can greatly reduce the risk of SUID.

The ABC’s of Safe Sleep

In 2011, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their recommendations to include the ABC’s of safe sleep. This simple acronym is the easiest way to remember to practice safe sleep.

Babies should sleep:

Modifying the infant’s environment is the key to prevent SUID! To create the safest sleep environment possible, the AAP recommends following these guidelines to reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths:

All these recommendations come from significant research over the last 30 years. Following these guidelines for healthy babies from birth to 1 year of age reduces the risk of sleep-related infant deaths. Always talk to your pediatrician if you have questions about safe sleep. Health experts will be able to help you create the safest sleep plan possible for your baby.

Sign up for our BeWell e-newsletter