Study identifies what increases SIDS risk

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In a study released Monday morning, researchers have broken down the risks of SIDS -- or Sudden Infant Death syndrome by age group. The study was co-authored by Dr. Jeffrey Colvin of Kansas City's Children's Mercy Hospital.

According to the study, the majority of infants who died from SIDS -- 69 percent -- were bed-sharing when they died.

"What we found is that the younger infants were particularly at risk for sharing a bed with an adult," Colvin said. "We found out that the older children were at a particular risk at having an object such as a blanket or a quilt or a pillow in the crib with them."

The study warns parents to not sleep with their infants. Babies ages zero to three months old are more at risk of dying if parents sleep with them. Newborns are more likely to die while sharing a bed compared with older babies. Older babies from the age of four months to under a year are more likely to die from objects left in their cribs.

Health officials and Colvin warn parents to make sure that cribs are clear of toys and pillows just in case the baby rolls over and into a pillow or another suffocation hazard like a toy, quilt or blanket.

The study also shows that nearly 74 percent compared to nearly 59 percent of younger infants are likely sleeping in bed with their parents compared to older infants.

"What I found most surprising was the percentage of young infants who are bed-sharing at the time of death -- 75 percent (were) bed-sharing, and that's just an incredible number," Colvin said.

The risk of SIDS falls sharply by the time the baby turns six months old, but Colvin warns parents not to let their guard down.

"Parents need to know that bed-sharing with their young infant is a dangerous situation, and when the infant turns older they start to relax about keeping a safe environment for the child," Colvin said. He added that when a child becomes older he or she is able to roll and/or crawl into a pillow left inside a crib and suffocate.

"It's so tragic because these are perfectly healthy infants that no one would ever think at-risk for dying, and although we still don't know exactly causes SIDS and other SIDS-related deaths, there are certainly ways the parents can help stop SIDS and to just follow the ABC's of safe sleep," Colvin said.

The ABCs of safe sleep are Alone, Back, Crib. Babies should sleep alone, on their backs and in a crib.

Read more here.

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16 comments

  • Kate

    Please tell me your comment was a joke. Did you not just rear there should be NOTHING in a baby’s crib? And expecting an infant to sleep from 11 pm to 6 am is ridiculous!!! They should still be having night feedings at that age. I really hope no one who reads your comment actually follows it. Please do your research.

    • Miranda Grim

      My boys slept 10 hrs at night from one month on. I actually did worry about it, and my pediatrician said 2 things. #1 – Never wake a sleeping baby. (Unless they’ve thrown up or have a poo diaper or are obviously sick…common sense.) #2 – You have no idea how lucky you are. 5 years later when my daughter came into the world, I certainly did know how lucky we had been lol. But she eventually adjusted too and slept 6-8 hrs nightly by 10 months. All babies are different. But some absolutely do sleep a long time at night and have fewer naps during the day. Just like the reverse is true. I even had to pump at night because their long sleep times were causing my milk to slow in production. And speaking of SIDS, when my oldest was born almost 15 years ago, they were actually trying to get parents to have babies sleep on this foam wedge? Argh! Frustrating! We did everything to keep his little butt from “rolling down the hill” and it never worked! By the time his brother came along at Christmas 2001, the wedge was gone lol. Not just from our house, but they were only selling them for babies with GERD. Point being, these SIDS ideas change all the time. I don’t think that anything heavy or stuffed should be in the cribs anymore…I do agree with the suffocation risk. I’m just saying that next year, they’re going to say something different. Like, babies should only be facing east when sleeping, or babies shouldn’t eat 30 minutes before they go to bed or they’ll get cramps…anything. Nothing would surprise me. It’s always going to change, so I take all of this info with a grain of salt. That’s all.

      • Kate

        Sorry if that was confusing. A lady posted a comment before mine saying she puts her baby to sleep on a pillow on her lap and then moves him, pillow and all, to his crib. And then said we need to start discipline our babies to sleep all night at 2 weeks old or they will start manipulating us, so if we let them cry from 11 to 6, they will “eventually” learn to sleep all night. That’s what my comment was about, sorry for the confusion :) she has since deleted it.

      • Miranda Grim

        Ok…I understand now. Uh, no…I would never let my baby cry all night long. Much less put them to bed with a big pillow! There is some truth in not running and picking baby up every time they make a tiny peep. And letting baby cry for a little while if Mom is exhausted and has had it…they always say to walk away if you’re staring lose it because crying won’t hurt a baby. Go to a quiet place for a few, drink some coffee, check your email, take some deep breaths and then return when you’re more composed. Maybe 30 minutes. Not 7 hrs! Her poor kid. I’ve personally never heard a baby cry that long, no matter the situation. Instinct tells me her child has a problem she’s not addressing. And then she deletes the comment…doesn’t want anybody telling her not to let her baby cry for 7 hours straight! Ugh. People.

      • Nick

        There is a name for everything and double the amount of excuses. Yes I do have a doctorate in COMMON SENSE! How many of the so called SIDS cases are actual suffocation’s being blamed on bs?!

  • Tricia

    I guess I was one of those lucky moms who never felt the need to sleep with her child. I never thought sleeping with an infant was a good idea, still don’t. My son slept by himself every night with never a problem falling asleep. He was fed in a dark room while I gently rocked him. When he was finished feeding I rocked him till he was almost asleep. Then I put him in his crib very gently. He would fall asleep the rest of the way right away and stayed asleep for 5-6 by the time he was 6 weeks old. Yes, initially he got 2 hour feedings like clock work. But I always made sure he was awake when I put him in his crib. That is how they learn to fall asleep on their own.

  • Jennie

    From my understanding, SIDS occurs when the part of the brain that monitors oxygen intake malfunctions. Under normal circumstances, the brain would alert the child that it was not receiving enough oxygen and the child would stir. During a SIDS episode, the child continues to sleep. The assertion is that by sleeping on their backs without anything near their face oxygen levels are more likely to remain healthy and there is less possibility of breathing in air that has already been exhaled (which then contains less oxygen). This is not the same as suffocation, during a SIDS episode items can be inches from the child’s face and still cause rebreathing of stale air.

  • maimommy425

    My daughter slept in a bassinet next to the bed for the first 3 months of her life. Then we moved her to the crib. There were many nights the only way she would sleep was lying on my chest. Those nights I would sleep on the couch. Every time she even budged I woke right up. Let’s be honest…some babies sleep better next to mommy or daddy…it’s only natural. But a newborn in the bed with two 100+ pound adults? No way. They don’t have the neck strength to pull away or turn over if they get stuck with their face in a pillow or under a blanket. The bassinet was the best thing we ever purchased.

  • maimommy425

    Oh, and I meant to add that the article doesn’t say that sleeping with a baby causes SIDS…it says it increases the risk. Although I agree…suffocation and ceasing to breathe with no other cause are two different things.