SIDS still a threat to American babies, finds survey

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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome SIDS, is still a threat to American babies finds the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control CDC in a new survey. The CDC states in its new Vital Signs report that despite the public campaigns and also the significant improvements in reducing the unsafe infant sleeping practices, there is still a threat to babies. The report appears in the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on the 9th of January 2018.

Their “Back to Sleep” campaign has been largely successful, the agency states, to preventing SIDS but there are one in five (21.6 percent) parents who are placing their babies on their stomach while putting them to sleep. Around two in five mothers (40 percent) used soft bedding such as bumper pads and thick blankets and over half (61.4 percent) of the mothers report bed sharing with adults. Both practices have been linked to SIDS and are unsafe for infants.

Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, director of the CDC, said in a CDC telebriefing that from this report it is evident that more work needs to be done to ensure safety of the infants. “There were significant reductions in sleep-related death in the 1990s; however, since the late 1990s, our progress has slowed. We need to reinvigorate this important work by getting Safe to Sleep messages to all audiences,” she said. Wanda Barfield, MD, director of the division of reproductive health at the CDC and Assistant Surgeon General in the United States Public Health Service explained that this Vital Signs report comes from 2015 data collected from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System. This was a state-based surveillance system that looked at women during their pregnancy and after they have had their babies and explored their habits, behaviors and practices.

The report states that babies are being placed on their sides and stomachs by 12% of mothers in Wyoming and Wisconsin and up to 31% in New York City and 34% of mothers in Louisiana (highest among all). Non-Hispanic black mothers (38 percent) and those under the age of 25 years and mothers who had had 12 or fewer years of education were more likely to practice these unsafe methods of putting their babies to be finds the report. Around 3500 babies die each year of SIDS and accidental suffocation finds the report. Dr. Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, one of the authors of the report said that in 2015 there were nearly 1,500 infant deaths due to SIDS and a further 1,200 deaths due to unknown causes and 900 suffocations.

Fitzgerald said that a wider campaign is needed until all healthcare providers across the state and country are aware of the safe sleep recommendations and advice and advocate them to new mothers. The high risk groups are to be targeted she added. “We cannot be complacent when there are ways that we can reduce the risk of these deaths.” Barfiled too stated that culturally appropriate public health messages should be circulated for new mothers and caregivers. The educational tools should include the benefits of making the infant sleep on its back for every sleep, removal of soft bedding such as blankets and pillows in the baby’s sleep area and also promote room sharing without bed sharing. Healthcare providers can assist and advise the caregivers to adopt these practices she said calling each lost baby an “unimaginable tragedy that impacts families and communities beyond measure.” “We know what we can do to reduce the risk of sleep-related death in infants. We all share responsibility to help mothers, fathers and other caregivers keep babies safe and healthy,” Barflied concluded.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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