Sofas unsafe for sleeping infants
Sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS has decreased since 1992 thanks to recommendations announced by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). However, infant sleep-related deaths still remain an issue. Other causes of sudden unexpected infant death include suffocation, sharing the bed with baby and babies getting trapped in items such as blankets or loose bedding.
A new study reports that another unsafe sleeping environment for an infant is a sofa or other soft surface. “Sofa sleeping is dangerous because the infants are likely to be put to sleep on their stomach and side, and these positions have an increased risk of SIDS,” explains Dr. Gene Denning, a pediatrician with Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill.
Researchers of the study, published in the October issue of the journal Pediatrics, examined data from 2004 to 2012 for infant deaths on sofas from 24 states. Of more than 9,000 sleep-related infant deaths, more than 1,000 or 12.9 percent occurred on sofas. Of these deaths, 72 percent occurred in infants between the ages of 0 to 3 months of age.
Researchers also found that nearly 45 percent of non-Hispanic whites had infants who had sofa-related sleep deaths, and their mothers were more likely to have used tobacco during pregnancy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that babies be placed on their backs for safe sleeping. Results from the study indicate, however, that infants found on sofas were more often placed on their bellies or on their side compared to other places babies slept. The infants that died were also more likely to be sharing a sofa with another person.
Study authors concluded that sleeping on a sofa with an infant—even for a nap—is extremely hazardous and can be linked to an increased risk of death for the infant. They stress the importance of making parents and caregivers aware of these dangers and getting educated on safe sleep practices.
Dr. Denning says that the best way to keep infants safe while sleeping is to have them sleep in their own crib or bed and limit the number of objects in the bed.
As an extra measure of safety, Dr. Denning adds, “The best thing parents can do to prevent death is to put infants to sleep on their backs every time.”
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