While that teddy bear is pretty adorable, it can also be dangerous. Most parents are placing their infants in unsafe sleep environments, a troubling new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows.
In a report released on Monday, August 15, researchers analyzed recorded videos of more than 160 infants sleeping. Cameras were placed in the homes and recorded the babies for three nights — once when the infant was 1 month, 3 months and 6 months old.
The results revealed that the 91 percent of 1-month-olds were at risk for sleep-related deaths because of items in the crib such as loose blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, bumper pads or sleep positioners. Plus, 14 percent of babies were incorrectly placed on their sides or stomachs, instead of their backs. All of these factors can lead to accidental suffocation and strangulation.
Throughout the night, the study found, 28 percent of 1-month-olds were moved to a different sleeping location, and the majority of those locations were unapproved surfaces such as adult beds, sofas, car seats or swings. The change in location also increased the chance of them being laid down incorrectly.
One of the authors of the report, Dr. Ian M. Paul, told Today that as a rule, the sleeping area “should contain nothing but the baby and what the baby is wearing.”
While parents may be tempted to spruce up the crib, it’s much safer to keep the environment simple and use only a fitted sheet over a mattress in a safety-approved crib, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says. Once the baby is around 12 months old, parents can add objects to the crib, Paul told Today.
Paul explained why he believes parents ignore warnings about using unsafe bedding. “Parents don’t think it’s going to happen to them, even though 3,500 infants die each year,” Paul said of mortality during sleep from sudden infant death syndrome, suffocation, strangulation and other unexplained causes. Another factor is simply the availability of the products. “They think that if these products are being sold, they are safe.”
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