Experts have long emphasized the importance of keeping newborns on a firm sleep surface

By Rachel DeSantis
April 27, 2021 04:25 PM
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New parents, beware: a new study is once again highlighting the dangers of letting infants fall asleep on soft bedding.

Experts have long emphasized the importance of keeping newborns on a firm sleep surface, and according to a study published this month by the journal Pediatrics, it's with good reason.

The study looked at the sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs) of nearly 5,000 babies from 2011 to 2017, and found that a majority, nearly 72 percent, occurred in a sleep environment deemed "unsafe."

While 82 percent were categorized as unexplained, a majority of those that were considered "explained" shared one thing in common: soft bedding.

"Among explained and possible suffocation deaths, ~75 percent resulted from airway obstruction attributed to soft bedding," the study said.

The study also found that just 1 to 2 percent of unexplained deaths had no unsafe sleep factors, according to CNN.

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"These deaths are still happening – and they happen to well-meaning parents. We have remained at the same rate of sleep-related deaths since around 1998," Dr. Rachel Moon, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics task force of SIDS, told the outlet. "And the rate in the U.S. is much higher than that in most developed – and even some not-so-developed countries."

Moon, who also authored the AAP policy statement on safe infant sleep, added that many parents focus on sleep position, and while that is important, they also need to be cautious of soft bedding.

AAP guidelines state that babies should sleep on their backs at all times until their first birthday, as babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides are more likely to die of SIDS (which is considered a subset of SUID).

Parents are also advised to use a firm sleep service that does not indent when the baby is lying on it, and to make sure their cribs, bassinets, portable cribs and play yards meet safety standards.

"Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the baby's sleep area," including pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, blankets, toys, bumper pads or similar products, the guidelines say.

Moon told CNN that babies' beds should have absolutely nothing in it except for a thin, tight-fitting sheet and the baby.