Reuters: More U.S. babies dying of suffocation, often in bed
Keeping infants in the same room but in a separate crib may help reduce the risk of suffocation and strangulation, but parents have to consider risks that go beyond just intentional bed sharing, said Dr. Jeffery Colvin of Children's Mercy Kansas City.
By Lisa Rapaport
The number of babies dying of suffocation before their first birthday has been rising in recent years, driven at least in part by an increase in the number of parents sharing beds with their infants, a U.S. study suggests.
From 1999 to 2015, the suffocation death rate for babies younger than 1 year climbed from 12.4 to 28.3 fatalities for every 1,000 U.S. infants, researchers report in Pediatrics.
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.
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 categorized, 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 categorized as accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed by the end of the study period.
“I think the suffocation and strangulation deaths are increasing due to the diagnostic shift,” said Dr. Jeffrey Colvin of Children’s Mercy Kansas City.
“There has also been an increase in bed sharing,” Colvin, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.
While keeping infants in the same room but in a separate crib may help reduce the risk of suffocation and strangulation, parents have to consider risks that go beyond just intentional bed sharing, Colvin said.
“It also means not accidentally falling asleep with your baby,” Colvin advised. “It also means removing objects from the infant’s crib or bassinet because all of the quilts, blankets, toys, and pillows are suffocation hazards.”
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