How to Prevent Sleep-Related Deaths in Infants

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexpected death of a child under age one, in which an autopsy does not show an explainable cause of death.

Twenty percent of annual infant deaths in Cincinnati are related to unsafe sleep habits, says Michael Marcotte MD, of Tri-State Maternal-Fetal Medicine Associates. “That’s about three times higher than the national average,” he points out.

For this reason, Dr. Marcotte is working with Cradle Cincinnati, an organization dedicated to combating Cincinnati’s high infant mortality rate, to educate parents on safe sleep practices. "This is a low-hanging fruit. We know there's ways to reduce it because other places have done it," he explains.

The ABCs of Safe Sleep: Do You Follow These?

Studies show that babies who co-sleep are at a higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome. Other leading causes of infant mortality include birth defects and premature births.

Dr. Marcotte says you should follow the ABCs of safe sleep (recommendations created by the American Academy of Pediatrics), when putting your child down for a nap or at night, which means sleeping:

  • Alone – Baby should not share sleeping spaces
  • On Back – Baby should sleep on his/her back
  • In a Crib – Baby should sleep on a firm crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet. You should also refrain from using car seats, swings or strollers for routine sleep.

“One of the foundational recommendations is that babies need to sleep in their own bed – in the crib – by themselves, without siblings or stuffed animals.” Dr. Marcotte explains. “They're really recommending no blankets or pillows, either.”

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Last Updated: April 3, 2014