Unsafe bedding, such as blankets, pillows or other unrecommended items are used when it comes to infants’ sleep, despite guidelines urging against the practice. The study was published Monday in Pediatrics.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health and federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed annual telephone surveys involving a total of nearly 20,000 parents. Back in 1993, almost 7 out of 8 used blankets or other soft bedding for their infants. That dropped sharply over the years but by 2010, 54.7% were still doing so. The practice was most common among young mothers, blacks and Hispanics.
Inappropriate bedding significantly increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS.
“Parents have good intentions but may not understand that blankets, quilts and pillows increase a baby’s risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation,”
said the study’s first author, Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, Ph.D., M.P.H., senior scientist in the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health in Atlanta.
“Parents receive a lot of mixed messages,”
said study author Marian Willinger, Ph.D., special assistant for SIDS at the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
“Relatives may give them quilts or fluffy blankets as presents for the new baby, and they feel obligated to use them. Or they see magazine photos of babies with potentially unsafe bedding items. But babies should be placed for sleep on a firm, safety approved mattress and fitted sheet, without any other bedding.”
SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants aged 1 month to 1 year, according to Kids Health. Every year 2,500 infants reportedly die of SIDS in the United States. Even though it remains an unpredictable cause of death, experts say the risk can be greatly reduced by making an optimal sleeping situation.
The current study is an analysis of data from the National Infant Sleep Position Survey (NISP), which collected information on the influence of infant sleep position and other safe sleep recommendations on infant care practices. Funded by the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).
However not using blankets doesn’t mean letting babies freeze; safe sleepwear is advised, including one-piece sleepers, and keeping the room at a comfortable temperature. Safe practices also include having babies sleep alone in cribs or bassinets, not on couches, water beds or sheepskin.
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