CDC: 3.5k infants die of sleep-related causes every year

About 3,500 infants in the United States experience sleep-related deaths annually, according to a recent Vital Signs report from the CDC.

Sleep-related deaths among infants sharply decline in the early and mid- 1990s, following the issuance of a safety recommendation to put babies on their backs to sleep. However, these declines have since stagnated.   

To assess causes behind sleep-related infant mortality, CDC researchers analyzed data on self-reported behaviors among women with new babies compiled in the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System for 2015. Analysis revealed 22 percent of mothers self-reported not placing their baby on his or her back to sleep, 39 percent reported using soft bedding for infants and 61 percent reported some occurrence of bed-sharing.

"Unfortunately, too many babies in this country are lost to sleep-related deaths that might be prevented," said Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, director of the CDC. "We must do more to ensure every family knows the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations — babies should sleep on their backs, without any toys or soft bedding and in their own crib. Parents are encouraged to share a room with the baby, but not the same bed. These strategies will help reduce the risk and protect our babies from harm."

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