Sleep Safety

It is been all through the news lately about the dangers of letting infants sleep outside of their cribs.  We all know that a sleeping baby is a priceless gem, but there are some risks that we may not all be aware of.

The Safe to Sleep Public Education Campaign has for more than 20 years educated parents and caregivers on the risks of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.  They advise babies be put to bed on their back on a covered mattress in an area free of additional bedding, pillows or toys.  Learn more at http://www.nichd.nih.gov  But many children are left sleeping in car seats, swings, bouncy seats and infant carriers.  What could be the harm in that?

In 2009, a Quebec coroner looked into the death of a 2-year old who had slept the night in his car seat.  His car seat was placed inside his crib and this was done sometimes to ease his colic.  Children sleeping in car seats and other products with restraints are at risk for death by asphyxiation.  With underdeveloped muscular control of infants holding their heads up is sometimes a challenge.  When a baby’s head falls forward or to the side it is possible to block or constrict the airway.  This can be, and has been the case with bouncers and swings as well and was the case in May, 2015 when Leia-Mae Smith’s mother woke to find her daughter in her bouncer not breathing with blue lips. She was later pronounced dead.

In addition to airway constriction by restraints,  a 2009 study found on the American Association of Pediatrics website, “A Comparison of Respiratory Patterns in Healthy Term Infants Placed in Car Safety Seats and Beds,” sites that oxygen level in newborns when studied are lower than levels when a child is placed in a crib.  https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/Car-Seats-Lower-Oxygen-Levels-of-Newborns.aspx The study authors support the use for travel safety, but not as a replacement for cribs.

A point of clarification should be made that these deaths above are example of sleep-related infant death and are not caused by SIDS.  In many of these infant accessory deaths that child dies due to the circumstances in which they were sleeping, meaning that had they been in a different position or location they would likely have survived.  In the case of SIDS, there is no explanation for the sudden death of an otherwise healthy infant.

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