Sudden unexplained infant death (SUID) takes the lives of more than 50 babies in Colorado each year. One of the main causes for SUID is accidental suffocation from infant sleep in an unsafe environment, such as the couch or a parent’s bed. The death rate by accidental suffocation in infants is increasing nationally.
In El Paso County, the number of infant deaths due to unsafe sleep environments increased in 2017. According to the El Paso County Child Fatality Prevention System, there were five reported fatalities involving unsafe sleep in 2015, three fatalities in 2016, and seven in 2017.
To reduce the risk of SUID and help ensure that your baby sleeps safely, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the ABC’s of safe sleep for babies:
- Babies should sleep Alone and on an appropriate sleep surface.
- Babies should sleep on their Back.
- Babies should sleep in a Crib, free of soft objects, toys and loose bedding.
The single most effective action that parents and caregivers can take to lower a baby’s risk for SUID, and other sleep-related causes of infant death, is to place the baby on his or her back to sleep for naps and at night. Other key recommendations include putting the baby in a separate sleep area in the same room, next to where parents sleep, and using a firm sleep surface, in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet with no soft objects such as pillows, toys, crib bumpers, or loose bedding.
El Paso County Public Health and El Paso County Department of Human Services are working with community partners to address this concerning trend in El Paso County.
“Babies sleep safest on their backs for naps and at night,” said Dr. Robin Johnson, El Paso County Public Health Medical Director. “Make sure everyone who cares for your baby knows the ways to reduce the risks of sleep-related infant deaths.”
Parents and caregivers can help spread the word about safe infant sleep by sharing information and free resources available from the Safe to Sleep® campaign at: http://safetosleep.nichd.nih.gov.
If you or someone you know needs help with a safe sleep environment for a baby, please contact your health care professional or visit www.elpasocountyhealth.org/healthy-babies-safe-sleep for a listing of local resources.