Despite progress made toward reducing sleep-related infant death with the Back to Sleep campaign, unsafe sleep practices are still common, with one in five mothers placing their baby to sleep on their side or stomach, according to the new Vital Signs report issued by the CDC.
Additionally, just under two in five mothers report using any soft bedding, including bumper pads and thick blankets, and more than half report any bedsharing.
“It is clear that we all have more work to do and everyone has a role to play in doing better when it comes to protecting our precious babies,” Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, director of the CDC, said in a CDC telebriefing. “There were significant reductions in sleep-related death in the 1990s; however, since the late 1990s, our progress has slowed. We need to reinvigorate this important work by getting Safe to Sleep messages to all audiences.”
According to Wanda Barfield, MD, director of the division of reproductive health at the CDC and Assistant Surgeon General in the United States Public Health Service, this report examines 2015 data collected from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, a state-based surveillance system that includes information about mothers’ behaviors and experiences before, during and after pregnancy.
A new report issued by the CDC revealed that unsafe infant sleep practices that may result in sleep-related infant death are still commonly used.
In addition to the frequency in which unsafe sleep practices are implemented, the Vital Signs report also analyzed the demographics that use these practices. Unsafe placement of infants on their side or stomach ranged from about 12% of mothers in Wisconsin to 34% of mothers in Louisiana. Placement on the side or stomach was most commonly reported by mothers who were non-Hispanic black, under the age of 25 years and who had 12 or fewer years of education.
“We must make sure that every caregiver, every health care provider, and state and local health department across the country knows that there are known safe sleep recommendations that can and do make a difference,” Fitzgerald said. “We should continue to raise awareness, particularly within those groups where data show babies are at higher risk of sleep-related death. We cannot be complacent when there are ways that we can reduce the risk of these deaths.”
To prevent unsafe sleep practices and sleep-related infant deaths, Barfield suggests developing culturally appropriate health care messages and educational tools for caregivers. This information should promote placing infants on their back for every sleep, roomsharing without bedsharing, removing soft bedding including blankets and pillows from the infant’s sleep area and discussing safe sleep practices with their health care provider.
If caregivers find difficulty following safe-sleep recommendations, health care providers should advise these caregivers and assist in finding solutions. Furthermore, health care providers can also model safe sleep practices for parents and other caregivers during office visits and in the hospital after delivery.
“Every single loss of a baby is an unimaginable tragedy that impacts families and communities beyond measure,” Barfield said in the telebriefing. “We know what we can do to reduce the risk of sleep-related death in infants. We all share responsibility to help mothers, fathers and other caregivers keep babies safe and healthy.” – by Katherine Bortz
Disclosures: Infectious Diseases in Children was unable to obtain disclosures prior to publication.