UVA Children’s Hospital pediatrician Rachel Moon, MD, served as lead author of the new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, while UVA’s Fern Hauck, MD, MS, served as a co-author. The new guidelines have been published online and will appear in the November issue of Pediatrics.
“We want to share this information in a way that doesn’t scare parents but helps to explain the real risks posed by an unsafe sleep environment,” Moon said. “We know that we can keep a baby safer without spending a lot of money on home monitoring gadgets but through simple precautionary measures.”
The AAP guidelines include:
- Babies should be placed on their back to sleep on a firm surface, such as a crib or bassinet, with a taut sheet.
- Babies should receive as much breast milk as possible for as long as possible.
- Babies should share a bedroom but not the same sleeping surface with parents, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. Room sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent, according to the AAP.
- Babies should never be placed on sofas, couches or cushioned armchairs.
- Parents should avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare.
- Parents should avoid exposing babies to smoke, and mothers should avoid alcohol and illicit drugs.
Approximately 3,500 infants die annually in the United States from sleep-related deaths, including SIDS, ill-defined deaths and accidental suffocation and strangulation.
More details on the new guidelines are available at the AAP website.