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Mothers aren't putting babies to sleep safely - study

Published:Monday | August 21, 2017 | 12:00 AM

According to a new study, only 43.7 per cent of mothers report that they use the correct method of putting their babies to bed on their backs. For decades, experts have been telling caregivers and parents to use this position. Placing babies on their backs before they go to sleep reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, an unexplained fatal condition also known as SIDS, as well as other sleep-related infant deaths like suffocation, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The study, published Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics, surveyed 3,297 mothers, of whom 77.3 per cent reported that they usually - but not always - put their babies to sleep on their backs.

Another finding was that those who felt the baby's sleeping position was not up to them, but rather the baby or another family member, were more than three times as likely to place the baby on its stomach.

The two main critiques of back sleep were the fear that the baby might choke and that it's less comfortable than having them sleep on their stomachs, the report said.


Sudden infant deaths


There were about 3,700 sudden unexpected infant deaths in the United States in 2015, according to the CDC. SIDS accounts for 1,600 of those, while 1,200 are due to unknown causes and 900 were due to accidental suffocation and strangulation while in bed. The sudden unexpected infant death rate of non-Hispanic black infants was 170.2 per 100,000 live births between 2011 and 2014, more than twice that of non-Hispanic white infants (83.8 per 100,000).

The study also said that parents perceive babies to be uncomfortable if they are frequently waking or crying while on their backs, so they let the child determine the sleeping position.

Babies should be placed on their backs on a firm sleeping surface with a tight-fitted sheet and no pillows or blankets, to prevent suffocation and overheating. They should never be put on couches, sofas or cushioned chairs to sleep.