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Unsafe Sleep Environments Are The Leading Cause Of SUID

Safe Sleep Environment

Every year we lose thousands of babies in the US due to Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), the leading cause of mortality amongst babies 1 year and younger. Many of these lives could have been saved with safe sleep practice.

This week the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published their newest study evaluating causes of SUIDs in the past years. Data from thousands of babies lost between 2011 and 2017 was carefully analyzed to help figure out how we can prevent those unfortunate events in the future.

Unsafe bedding

The major cause, linked to about 72% of SUIDs, was unsafe sleep environment. As many as 3 out of 4 of those deaths were due to use of soft bedding, like soft mattresses, pillows, couches, adult beds, armchairs, that causes suffocation hazards for babies and can impair their ability to breathe. Babies are especially at risk here because they can't move away from soft surfaces and simply catch a breath when they are suffocating. 


To minimize the risk of SUIDs, safe sleep environment has to be practiced. Healthychildren.org, run by AAP, recommends:

1) Babies should sleep on their backs

Until their first birthday, they should sleep on their backs (not stomachs or on the side) for all sleep times—for naps and at night - to avoid risk of suffocation.

2) Use a firm sleep surface

crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard that meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is recommended along with a tight-fitting, firm mattress and fitted sheet designed for that particular product. The sleeping surface has to be hard, so it should not indent when the baby is lying on it. Nothing else should be in the crib except for the baby - no toys, pillows, loose blankets, etc. 

3) Only bring your baby into your bed to feed or comfort

Adult beds are unsafe environments for babies, and are not recommended to be used unsupervised or when you are tired. If there is any possibility that you might fall asleep, be sure to put your baby back to their safe crib before it happens. In addition, you should always make sure there are no pillows, sheets, blankets, or any other items that could cover your baby's face, head, or neck, in your bed and cause accidental suffocation or strangulation while your baby is there.

These are only a few tips to avoid SUIDs, so be sure to consult your doctor for more tips and information. This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician.