Safe Sleep Habits Reduce Sudden Infant Death

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services offers tips to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Safe sleep practices are critical to aid in the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome. SIDS is defined as the sudden death of an infant under one year of age, which remains unexplained after a thorough investigation. The newer acronym, SUIDS, or sudden unexplained infant death, is the death of an infant under one year of age that is sudden and unexpected, even if the cause can be determined. SIDS is one cause of SUIDS, and was the cause of 34 percent of post neonatal deaths in Alaska between 2009 and 2012.

Almost all SIDS deaths are preventable. According to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Alaska’s SIDS death rate is 15.4 percent lower than the national average, though Alaska Native and American Indian people have the highest rate of SIDS in the state. The American Academy of Pediatrics suspects that there are several factors which may play into this, including accessibility to proper bedding and socioeconomic status.

The risk of SIDS is highest in 1- to 4-month-old infants, with a higher risk posed to those who sleep with soft bedding. Sleeping arrangements account for a large portion of the prevention measures against SIDS. Although it is commonly classified as SIDS, unintentional suffocation is the most common preventable cause of death in infants, often resulting from sharing a bed with a parent. In September, the State of Alaska updated their safe sleep material to continue the campaign of safe sleep awareness.

Help keep your children safe by following these safety tips from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Infants should be:

  • Alone in their sleep space, meaning no blankets, padding, pillows, or soft toys
  • Placed on their back, not their stomach as previously taught
  • In their crib in the room with their parents, not in their parent’s bed.

Preliminary studies being conducted by a host of reputable sources, including the AAP, are finding that pacifiers, when used with sleeping infants, can reduce the risk of SIDS. This assumes that there is no string or attachment in the crib with the infant. More studies are being conducted to determine why pacifiers are returning these results.

by SCF Public Relations

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