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Infant Suffocation Deaths on the Rise


The number of infants dying of suffocation before their first birthday has been on the rise in recent years. A new study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests the increase is at least partly due to parents not following safe sleep recommendations.

Baby Suffocation Deaths More than Doubled

According to Reuters Health, the number of babies under the age of one who have died of suffocation more than doubled between 1999 and 2015, from 12.4 fatalities for every 1,000 U.S. infants to 28.3 fatalities for every 1,000 U.S. infants.

For context, this means that in 2015 alone, 1,100 infants suffocated to death with the majority of the fatalities occurring while the babies were sleeping.

The study’s co-author, David Schwebel of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says that the spike may be the result of parents not following “safe sleep” recommendations. Current guidelines recommend infants be placed in sleeping areas without stuffed animals, soft blankets, pillows, or other items that could pose a suffocation hazard.

Dr. Jeffrey Colvin of Children’s Mercy Kansas City, who was not part of the study, also cited bed sharing as a possible factor. This is not limited to intentional bed sharing as some deaths are attributed to parents accidentally falling asleep next to their child.

Preventing Suffocation with Safe Sleep Practices

When putting your child down to sleep, it is important that you create a safe sleeping space. Not only can this help reduce the risk of suffocation, but practicing safe sleep guidelines is also proven to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

  • Room Sharing – The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says your baby should sleep in your room for at least the first 6 months of their life. Statistics suggest that room-sharing can lower the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
  • No Bed Sharing – Room sharing does not mean bed sharing. Your baby should sleep in his or her own space, whether that is a bassinet, crib, or co-sleeper (a separate sleeping area that attaches to your bed).
  • Use Proper Bedding – Make sure the mattress or bedding in your child’s sleeping space is firm with a tightly fitted sheet.
  • An Empty Sleep Space is the Safest – Your baby’s sleeping space should be empty except for your baby. This means no bumper pads, soft toys, positioning devices, pillows, blankets, quilts, or reachable toys with strings.
  • Put Your Baby to Sleep on Their Back – Every time you put your child down to sleep, lay them down on their back with their face facing up. This is how your baby should sleep until they are able to roll from back-to-front and front-to-back easily and without assistance.

Contact an Experienced Child Injury Attorney

At Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys, we have the experience and resources to handle your child’s case. If your child has been the victim of a serious injury caused by a defective crib, playpen, or bassinet, contact our offices. We are available 24/7, nights and weekends. If you are unable to make it to one of our offices, we will send one of our attorneys to you. Let us help you and your child achieve justice and compensation for injuries caused by a crib manufacturer’s negligence. Call us today for a free legal consultation.

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