Massachusetts is launching a “Safe Sleep” campaign. The campaign comes as six infant deaths occurred due to unsafe sleeping. The deaths involved parents bringing their children in their bed to sleep. All of the deaths occurred due to accidental asphyxiation.
The Safe Sleep campaign aims to educate caregivers and parents on how to create a safe sleeping space for children.
Unsafe positions kill as many as 40 children per year in the state.
A public awareness campaign is being held where the state is paying for training programs and education for anyone that fits into the vulnerable population category. Caretaker behavior is a leading cause of unsafe sleeping deaths.
Parents or caregivers place their children in the bed with them, and while the parent sleeps, they often roll over, pinning the baby against the mattress and killing them. Caregivers that consume alcohol or that are on medication have an even higher risk of unsafe sleeping compared to caregivers that are not on medication or consuming alcohol.
While a queen-sized mattress provides ample room for co-sleeping with an infant, experts recommend that parents avoid sharing a sleep surface with their child until they are at least six months old. It’s also important to note that the same guidelines indicate that parents that share a sleeping space with their child reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by up to 50%, making the practice a worthwhile one when done safely.
It’s a major issue in the US, as the CDC reports that in 2016, there were 900 deaths due to accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed. SIDS, by comparison, accounted for 1,500 deaths while 1,200 deaths were due to “unknown causes.”
The Safe Sleep Campaign will include displays on transit systems in the state, especially in areas where the rates of infant death are at their highest level.
Tips to help protect babies during nap and sleep time are listed on the campaign’s official website.
Recommendations include always putting the baby on their back while they’re sleeping. Not smoking around your baby is also listed as smoking has been shown to increase the risk of infant death. Baby sleep areas are to be kept empty to avoid any potential for strangulation or suffocation.
Babies that sleep on their stomach are at a higher risk of suffocation. Putting babies to sleep on their side is not recommended because of accidental rolling over on to the stomach. Babies have a higher risk of breathing in spit up when they’re on their stomach versus on their back.
Babies that are able to roll themselves from their belly to their back can sleep however they like and will be at a much lower risk of breathing in spit up or suffocation.
The “Back-to-Sleep” campaign which was first started in 1994 by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Institute of Child Health and Development, along with SIDS groups and the Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration increased infants sleeping on their back from 17% to 73% between 1993 and 2010.