SOURCE: Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect

Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect

Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect

September 09, 2013 12:23 ET

Suffocation Risks During Sleep for Babies Too High to Ignore

Infant Deaths Preventable by Following Easy Tips

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwired - Sep 9, 2013) - With the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association recognizing September as Baby Safety Month, the Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (ICAN) wants Los Angeles-area parents to know the four steps to putting their baby to sleep safely.

Statistics show that every five days a baby suffocates while sleeping, making bed-sharing and unsafe sleep environments the leading preventable cause of infant death in L.A. County. From 2008 to 2011, more babies died from suffocation due to unsafe sleep than all accidental deaths for children under age 14 combined. This means that unsafe sleeping kills more babies than drowning, poisoning and car accidents.

These infants are dying from a number of suffocation dangers. The Los Angeles County Department of Coroner reports that the top causes of suffocation include babies sharing a bed with parents or sleeping on a couch; cribs cluttered with blankets, pillows, bumper pads and stuffed toys; and babies sleeping on their side or stomach.

This type of death is silent and quick, occurring within seconds. Even the lightest sleeper wouldn't necessarily be able to save their baby, and baby monitors won't catch these deaths either.

However, by following four simple steps, everyone can put their baby to sleep safely:

1) Share a room, not a bed. If you're breastfeeding, put your baby back in a crib or bassinet after nursing.
2) Lay babies down to sleep in a crib or bassinet with a firm mattress. Portable cribs, like a Pack 'n Play, are a good alternative.
3) Give babies space to breathe -- no pillows, bumper pads, blankets or toys in the crib or bassinet. Even one object is a suffocation risk.
4) Place babies on their back every time, at night and for naps.

It's also important to know that certain baby equipment and furniture can increase the risk of suffocation. While it might be convenient to leave babies in a car seat or stroller after they've fallen asleep, these places are dangerous because the baby isn't lying down or sitting up straight. Since infants don't have the neck muscle strength to hold up their head, this slumped, in-between position can block their airway, leading to suffocation.

Other unsafe sleeping spots include couches, recliners and easy chairs. In these situations, a baby can slide down between an adult and the side of a chair or couch, get wedged in a corner or between cushions, or scoot into an unsafe position.

As we learn and practice safety measures this September, remember -- one of the best ways to keep babies safe is to remove the risks of suffocation while sleeping. To learn more about infant safe sleeping practices and the risks of suffocation due to bed-sharing and unsafe sleep, visit SafeSleepForBaby.com.

About the Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect
The Los Angeles County Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (ICAN) is the official county agent coordinating the development of services for the prevention, identification and treatment of child abuse and neglect. ICAN is nationally known for its multi-agency comprehensive review of child fatalities. Through this review, it has been determined that infant unsafe sleeping is the single leading cause of preventable child death. ICAN Associates is a private, nonprofit organization that works in partnership with ICAN, providing support for direct and indirect services to prevent harm to children. ICAN and ICAN Associates have partnered with First 5 LA to raise awareness about safe sleep for babies to save families from the preventable tragedy of losing an infant due to unsafe sleeping practices. For more information, please visit ican4kids.org.