Infant deaths due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) have reached an annual average of about 3,500 a year according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control. While that death toll represents a dramatic decrease from annual mortality totals from the 1990s, the CDC is raising an alarm because the rate at which SIDS death totals are declining has slowed despite the fact that more can be done to prevent SIDS deaths.
The decrease in SIDS deaths is largely credited to a public information campaign begun in the 1990s. Called the “Back to Sleep” campaign, the information push helped parents understand safe sleep practices, including putting infants to sleep on their back and removing soft bedding from cribs.
However, despite progress in the fight against SIDS the CDC reports that there are a startling number of parents who continue to put their infants at risk. The agency notes that 22 percent of mothers report not putting their child to sleep on their back. Another 39 percent report using soft bedding in cribs. These numbers highlight the fact that nearly half of U.S. caregivers have either not been given the correct sleep information from their healthcare providers or not processed it.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has clear recommendations on how parents can reduce the risk of SIDS. These include putting a baby to sleep on their back, on a firm mattress covered with a taught sheet. Additionally, the AAP recommends that babies sleep in a parent’s room for at least the first six months and suggests using a fan in the room where the child is sleeping.