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Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Risk Factors Vary for Younger and Older Babies — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
July 15, 2014

Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Risk Factors Vary for Younger and Older Babies

By Amy Orciari Herman

Edited by David G. Fairchild, MD, MPH, and Jaye Elizabeth Hefner, MD

Risk factors for sleep-related deaths vary based on infant age, but bed-sharing remains the biggest problem overall, according to a Pediatrics study.

Researchers examined over 8000 sleep-related deaths among infants younger than 1 year from 2004 through 2012. Over two thirds of the babies were bed-sharing — and one third had an object in the sleep environment — at the time of death.

Younger infants (age 0 to 3 months) were more likely than older infants (4 months to <1 year) to be sharing a bed or sleeping on an adult when they died, while older infants were more likely to be found in the prone position with objects (e.g., blankets, pillows) nearby.

The authors conclude: "Parents should be warned about the dangers of bed-sharing, particularly in 0- to 3-month-old infants. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that infants do not need to be repositioned onto their backs if they roll into the prone position, parents should be reminded that cribs should be clear of any objects, so that if the infant rolls, there is no risk of rolling into something that may create an asphyxial environment."

Reader Comments (2)

JOHN BOYD Physician, Pediatrics/Adolescent Medicine, SCF

Do we have a denominator ? Without one how can we determine the real risk.

ELIZABETH FEUER Physician

I don't think the purpose was to quantify the risk, but rather to determine how age affected the proportion of babies dying from various causes. In other words, the denominator was all of the babies who died. The numerator was babies dying by various causes, stratified by age.

Elizabeth Feuer, M.D., MPH.

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