Sleep-Related Death and Babies: Risk Factors Vary by Age, Study Finds

Baby Sleeping on BackHow safe is your baby’s sleep?

A new study examined the biggest sleep risks for babies under 1 year of age and found that younger and older infants faced different risk factors for sleep-related deaths. In the study, which was published online today in the journal Pediatrics, researchers analyzed more than 8,000 sleep-related infant deaths from 24 states between 2004 and 2012. Of those deaths, the study found that for infants up to 4 months of age, the biggest risk factor for sleep-related death was bed-sharing with either a parent or pet. In fact, in roughly 74 percent of the cases studied, the infants had been bed-sharing at the time of their death. About 50 percent of those cases happened when the child was sleeping in an adult bed or on a person.

But for infants ages 4 months to 1 year, the largest risk factor associated with death was different: rolling into objects, including blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, and bumpers, during sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep in the same room as their care providers, but not in the same bed. The crib or bassinet should be within arm’s reach, free of any loose items, including toys and soft bedding, and covered with a fitted sheet.

Despite those safe-sleep recommendations, a whopping 73 percents of the 4,500 respondents in a recent American Baby magazine survey admitted they placed at least one item the crib with their baby.

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Image: close-up portrait of a sleeping baby via Shutterstock

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