LUBBOCK, Texas — Parents can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for infants under one year old by practicing safe sleeping habits, said Dr. Tammy Camp, professor of pediatrics at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, Thursday afternoon.
Dr. Camp said the best way for parents to ensure safe sleeping environments is to “always put infants to sleep on their backs,” and keep cribs free of anything other than the sheet on their mattress.
To reduce the risk of SIDS, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in 2018 recommended:
- Always place baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night
- Use firm and flat sleep surfaces, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet with no other bedding or soft items in the sleeping area.
- Share your room with the baby. Keep baby in your room close to your bed, but on a separate surface designed for infants, ideally for the baby’s first year, but at least for the first six months.
- Do not put soft objects, toys, crib bumpers or loose bedding under baby, over baby, or anywhere in baby’s sleep area.
Dr. Camp recommended pregnant mothers stay away from cigarette smoke because that can also put infants at a higher risk for SIDS.
In addition to parents reducing the risk, The Baby Closet, an organization based out of Lubbock, said it inspects secondhand donations, like cribs and car seats, before giving them away.
“We try to keep up with anything that’s recalled,” said Shirlene Hager, lead volunteer at The Baby Closet.
Hager said The Baby Closet receives a few items each year that do not meet safety standards, adding, “Normally, we just dispose of them.”
Car seats, cribs and swings can all be suffocation hazards, said Dr. Camp. She said a great way to know if baby items are up to standards would be to look at the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is another resource she recommended.
Dr. Camp said she has seen tremendous progress in reducing cases of SIDS since the 1990s. She said she believes the Back to Sleep Campaign, which began in 1994 to educate caregivers on reducing SIDS risk and bring attention to the issue, made a “remarkable difference” in reducing cases.
Whether it was the Back to Sleep Campaign that made a difference in rates, the data supports the decline in SIDS between 1990 and 2019.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “SIDS rates declined considerably from 130.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 33.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2019.”
Dr. Camp said Native Americans and non-Hispanic, black children are at higher risk for SIDS, but SIDS spares no groups.
“It can affect any child,” she said. The CDC supported the findings, with American Indian and Alaska Natives leading rates of Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths between 2014 and 2018.
The Baby Closet said it needs cribs and car seats that are up-to-par with safety standards. Visit the website for details.