The Safe-Sleep Rules Parents Break

Our November issue contains a story that was very difficult for our writer to report and for us to edit, because it's about SIDS. In fact, "Keep Your Baby Safe" goes beyond SIDS and addresses a lesser-known concept called Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID). SUID is the broader category of accidental deaths that include accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed. For our story we interviewed pediatrician Rachel Moon, M.D., a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and internationally-recognized expert on the condition. She told us, "The majority of those babies who die from SUID had been bedsharing or had a blanket or a pillow while sleeping. They didn't have to die."

New research emerged this week showing that nearly 14 percent of babies in the U.S. frequently share a bed with other people. In our article, we include stories of five families whose babies either died or had close calls with death while they slept. And among the lessons they want their fellow parents to know are that it just doesn't matter if you're a light sleeper. Even if you don't drink alcohol or take drugs and you wake easily, you're putting your baby at risk by sleeping with him, whether in bed or on a couch.

Another startling safe-sleep statistic is that even though pediatricians universally recommend back-sleeping, 25 percent of parents still do not put their babies to sleep on their back. As part of its "Safe to Sleep" campaign, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development has created a helpful image to show you exactly what the safest sleep environment for a baby looks like. Everyone who cares for babies in any capacity should take a look--you may be surprised by what shouldn't be in a crib.

If you read the magazine version of our story, you'll see photos of 70 babies who died of SIDS or SUID. Our intention was to show just a fraction of the number of babies who accidentally die from sleep-related causes every year. It was enormously generous of their parents to share their child's photograph with us, and we are very grateful.

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