Scientists have raised the alarm over the number of babies dying of suffocation, occasioned by an increase in the number of parents sharing beds with their infants.
According to the findings of a report published in ‘Paediatrics,’ babies are safest sleeping on their backs in their own cribs without any pillows, toys, blankets or other loose bedding. From 1999 to 2015, the suffocation death rate for babies younger than one year climbed from 12.4 to 28.3 fatalities for every 1,000 United States (US) infants.
Similarly, the study shows that in 2015 alone, this translated into 1,100 infant deaths that were entirely preventable.
The majority of these suffocation fatalities occurred while babies were in bed. Although, there is lack of data to show the trend of these activities in Nigeria where bed sharing between mothers and newborn is very common among low income and the poor, it is believed that this practice might also be impacting negatively in the country.
However, going by the guidelines from the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), if babies do sleep in parents’ beds, parents should have a firm mattress, remove soft objects such as pillows, and move the bed away from the wall, as part of measures to ensure the safety of the babies.
Similarly, the AAP said parents should also be aware that bed sharing is most dangerous for newborns, less than four months old, premature babies and underweight infants, or if babies were exposed to tobacco during or after pregnancy.
Study co-author, David Schwebel, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said: “It may be that parents are not following `safe sleep’ recommendations to place infants in beds without stuffed animals, soft blankets, pillows, and other items that could cause suffocation.
Suffocation and strangulation deaths increased across the board for boys and girls, regardless of race, ethnicity or whether they lived in urban or rural communities, the study found. At least some of the increase in suffocation deaths might be due to a change in how these fatalities are categorised, researchers note.
Some fatalities that were attributed to sleep-related causes like sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) at the start of the study might have been categorised as accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed by the end of the study period.
New Telegraph News