Study: Number of SIDS deaths decreases

March 26, 2012 1:50:00 PM PDT
It's been 18 years since a campaign called "Back to Sleep" launched to remind parents and caregivers could reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome by having babies sleep on their backs.

A new study in the Journal Pediatrics says it's working-- the number of sudden infant deaths has been cut by more than half.

Researchers looked at the number of sudden infant deaths in San Diego from 1991 to 2008.

During that time, the percentage of babies sleeping on their stomachs who died of SIDS dropped dramatically from 85 percent to 30 percent.

But the researchers and pediatricians say it can't stop there, many of the other risk-factors for SIDS are still widespread.

"There is less SIDS. It's definitely working well. "back to sleep" is essential, but because people are now doing that much better, there are other, more obvious risk factors that still put kids at risk for SIDS," said Dr. Skyler Kalady, Cleveland Clinic.

Most alarming is that the percentage of deaths involving infants sharing a bed with an adult doubled from 19 to 38 percent.

Although sleeping on the stomach remains the biggest risk factor for SIDS, the researchers say it's important to remind parents of other risk factors, like bed-sharing, smoking, or soft bedding. That could bring the number of deaths down even more.

"All children must sleep on their back. But other things that we know is that they should be in their own crib or bassinet with a firm mattress with nothing around them, no stuffed animals or blanket that could cause some trouble with breathing," adds Dr. Kalady.

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