Many parents may not realize that there are significant consequences associated with the management of a child's sleep. Injuries can occur during sleep that can compromise the child's health, well-being, and overall life. Unsafe sleep environments, in particular for infants, can present a broad range of serious problems. Some of the most common issues associated with an unsafe sleep environment include strangulation, suffocation, or entrapment.
The sudden death of any infant under one year of age that does not have an obvious cause immediately after the infant has passed away may be referred to as sudden unexpected infant death.
Some of these may be caused to sudden infant death syndrome, which is a term used to describe death in which there is no immediate cause even after a comprehensive investigation has been conducted. This definition is shared by the Center for Disease Control, and approximately 3500 infants pass away from these issues every single year in the United States.
For infants between the ages of 1 and 12 months, SIDS is the leading cause of mortality. Among all infants it is the third leading cause of death. The majority of these deaths happen in a particular period in the infant's life between the ages of one and four months of age. American Indian, Alaskan native, and African American babies are more likely to die from SIDS than Asian American, Caucasian, or Hispanic babies.
It is possible to reduce the risk of SIDS and SUID. Safe sleep tips have been developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. These include never letting a baby overheat, keeping babies away from those who are smoking, never placing a baby on a couch or a chair to fall asleep, offering a baby a pacifier at naptime and bedtime, allowing babies to have their own place to sleep to reduce the risk of suffocation and strangulation, and putting a baby to sleep on a firm surface that is free of loose bedding or soft objects that could suffocate, trap, or strangle the baby. Following these tips can help parents to prevent the serious risks associated with falling asleep and suffering life-threatening injuries.
Since the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement that recommended back and side sleep positions for infants in 1992, the rate of sudden infant death syndrome across the United States has decreased by more than 50%. Other safe sleep actions have been identified such as not using car safety seats or strollers for sleeping, using no blankets, bumpers or extra bedding in the sleeping area. These recommendations are also provided to childcare programs in order to decrease the risk that the child passes away in daycare or other similar situations.
Infants should always be put to sleep in safe sleep environments including firm crib mattresses with a tight-fitting sheet. Safety approved cribs should also always be purchased. In the event that an infant falls asleep in any location that is not a safe sleeping environment, staff or parents should move the infant and place them in the appropriate position in the crib. This can help to ensure no child is ever put into a dangerous position that could lead to severe injury or their death. No parent should have to go through that situation.
Stackable cribs are not recommended and daycare centers should always place one child in each crib. For those infants up to 12 months of age, they should sleep completely on their back for every sleep opportunity and nap, unless the primary healthcare provider has completed signed documentation indicating that that particular child requires a different sleep location.
In the event that a child arrives at a facility asleep in a car seat, the caregiver, teacher, guardian, or parent must take the infant out of that seat and place them in a safe sleeping environment on their back. Following these tips can help to reduce the number of infants who pass away unexpectedly as a result of preventable or unknown issues.