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Decline in SIDS Deaths Plateaus; Safe Sleep Habits Urged

AUSTIN, Texas – After dropping for years, the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in the United States has stayed somewhat level for some time, so experts are again reminding parents and providers about the importance of safe sleep habits.

According to child-care educator Cory Woosley, babies always should sleep on a firm mattress with a fitted sheet – and on their backs.

“If you think about their heads and not being able to pick it up and their faces being into the mattress,” she said, “particularly if you don’t have a firm mattress and the baby’s face is down in there and they can’t lift their neck, that would probably be our number one concern is suffocation.”

Child care experts are reminding providers and parents about the importance of safe sleep habits when it comes to preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The rate of SIDS has leveled off in recent years after a trend of decline. Photo: Jessica Merz/TNS

Since 1990, the SIDS rate in the United States has declined by more than 50 percent, but it’s still the leading cause of death for those up to a year old, with more than 2,000 SIDS victims each year.

The crib should also be entirely cleared, noted Woosley.

“Blankets, toys, pillows, the bumpers on the cribs, none of that should be in the baby’s bed,” she said. “We want the bed really clear.”

Whether a child is sleeping or awake, Woosley said, he or she needs to be protected from second-hand smoke.

“This has been affiliated with SIDS at times, and now we are seeing research around third-hand smoke, which is simply smoke on the clothing,” she said. “Pacifiers are OK. A lot of providers, a lot of parents, think the baby could suffocate with a pacifier. A pacifier actually keeps the baby’s little mouth moving and can be a preventative towards SIDS.”

Woosley said parents also should schedule regular checks on sleeping babies, and the babies should nap in cribs, not in a car seat or on a couch or an adult bed.

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