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Decline in SIDS Deaths Plateaus, Safe Sleep Habits Urged

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Child care experts are reminding providers and parents about the importance of safe sleep habits when it comes to preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The rate of SIDS has leveled off in recent years after a trend of decline. CREDIT: Jessica Merz
Child care experts are reminding providers and parents about the importance of safe sleep habits when it comes to preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The rate of SIDS has leveled off in recent years after a trend of decline. CREDIT: Jessica Merz
 By John MichaelsonContact
April 19, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. – After dropping for years, the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in the U.S. has stayed somewhat level for some time, so experts are again reminding parents and providers about the importance of safe sleep habits.

Cory Woosley, professional development director of Child Care Aware of Minnesota, says you always want a baby to sleep on a firm mattress with a fitted sheet – and on his or her back.

"If you think about their heads,” she says, “and not being able to pick it up and their faces being into the mattress, particularly if you don't have a firm mattress and the baby's face is down in there and they can't lift their neck. That would probably be our number one concern is suffocation."

Since 1990, the SIDS rate in the U.S. has declined by more than 50 percent, but it's still the leading cause of death for those ages one year and younger, with more than 2,000 SIDS victims each year.

Woosley says the crib should also be entirely cleared.

"Blankets, toys, pillows, the bumpers on the cribs, none of that should be in the baby's bed,” she explains. “We want the bed really clear."

Woosley adds parents also tend to dress their baby too warmly at night, noting that babies don't get as cold as some parents might imagine.

And whether infants are sleeping or awake, Woosley says they need to be protected from second-hand smoke.

"This has been affiliated with SIDS at times and now we are seeing research around third-hand smoke, which is simply smoke on the clothing,” she says. “Pacifiers are okay. A lot of providers, a lot of parents think the baby could suffocate with a pacifier. A pacifier actually keeps the baby's little mouth moving and can be a preventative towards SIDS."

Woosley says parents should schedule regular checks on sleeping babies, and the babies should nap in cribs, not in a car seat or on a couch or an adult bed. She also says parents should have safe sleep discussions with their childcare providers.


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