Despite major decreases in the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) after a national safe sleep campaign in the 1990s, the number of infant deaths plateaued by 2016. Approximately 3,500 infants die annually in the United States from sleep-related deaths, including SIDS, ill-defined deaths, and accidental suffocation and strangulation.
In the most recent policy statement on "SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment," the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) draws on new research to provide SIDS prevention recommendations for parents.
"We know that parents may be overwhelmed with a new baby in the home, and we want to provide them with clear and simple guidance on how and where to put their infant to sleep," said Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP, lead author of the report. "Parents should never place the baby on a sofa, couch, or cushioned chair, either alone or sleeping with another person. We know that these surfaces are extremely hazardous."
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The report published in the November 2016 issue of Pediatrics, advises that infants should sleep in the same bedroom as their parents — but on a separate surface, such as a crib or bassinet, and never on a couch, armchair or soft surface — to decrease the risks of sleep-related deaths. It also includes evidence that supports skin-to-skin care for newborn infants; addresses the use of bedside and in-bed sleepers; and adds to recommendations on how to create a safe sleep environment.
Breastfeeding is also recommended as adding protection against SIDS. After feeding, the AAP encourages parents to move the baby to his or her separate sleeping space, preferably a crib or bassinet in the parents' bedroom.
"If you are feeding your baby and think that there's even the slightest possibility that you may fall asleep, feed your baby on your bed, rather than a sofa or cushioned chair," said Lori Feldman-Winter, MD, FAAP, member of the Task Force on SIDS and co-author of the report. "If you do fall asleep, as soon as you wake up be sure to move the baby to his or her own bed," she said.