Trending Topics

Pediatricians update SIDS prevention guidelines

The new report includes evidence that supports skin-to-skin care for newborn infants and how to create a safe sleep environment

By EMS1 Staff

ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. — The American Academy of Pediatrics announced a set of guidelines and recommendations Monday to prevent and protect against SIDS and other infant-related deaths.

Infants should sleep in the same bedroom as their parents, but on a separate surface. A crib or bassinet decreases the risks of sleep-related deaths. Infants should never sleep on a couch, armchair or soft surface.

The policy draws on new research and serves as the first update to AAP policy since 2011.

Recommendations call for infants to share their parents’ bedroom for at least the first six months and, optimally, for the first year of life, based on the latest evidence.

The report, to be published in the November 2016 issue, includes new 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.

“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,” Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP, lead author of the report, said. “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.”

Approximately 3,500 infants die annually in the United States from sleep-related deaths, including SIDS, ill-defined deaths and accidental suffocation and strangulation. The number of infant deaths initially decreased in the 1990s after a national safe sleep campaign, but has plateaued in recent years.

AAP recommendations on creating a safe sleep environment include:

  • Place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.
  • Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare.
  • Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns one but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
  • Avoid baby’s exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.
  • Skin-to-skin care is recommended, regardless of feeding or delivery method, immediately following birth for at least an hour as soon as the mother is medically stable and awake, according to the report.

“We want to share this information in a way that doesn’t scare parents but helps to explain the real risks posed by an unsafe sleep environment,” Dr. Moon said. “We know that we can keep a baby safer without spending a lot of money on home monitoring gadgets, but through simple precautionary measures.”