Breast-Feeding, Vaccinations Lower SIDS Risk, Experts Say

Also in updated guidelines from pediatricians' group: don't use crib 'bumper pads'

TUESDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics say breast-feeding and proper immunizations can both lower baby's risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Those are two new recommendations issued Tuesday as part of the AAP's updated SIDS guidelines.

Since 1992, when the AAP recommended that all babies should be placed on their backs to sleep, SIDS has declined sharply in the United States, according to an AAP news release. But sleep-related deaths from other causes such as suffocation, entrapment and accidental strangulation have increased.

The updated guidelines, slated for Oct. 18 release at the AAP's national meeting in Boston, are published online and in the November print issue of the journal Pediatrics. They offer additional advice for parents to create a safe sleeping environment for their babies and include three important new recommendations:

  • Breast-feeding is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS and is recommended.
  • Infants should be immunized. Research suggests immunization reduces the risk of SIDS by 50 percent.
  • Bumper pads shouldn't be used in cribs. The pads don't prevent injuries but can cause suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.

Among the other recommendations for parents:

  • Place your baby on his or her back for every sleep time.
  • Always place your baby on a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
  • Your baby should sleep in the same room as you, but not in the same bed.
  • Cribs should not have any soft objects or loose bedding. This includes pillows, blankets and bumper pads.
  • Do not use wedges and positioners.
  • Pregnant woman should receive regular prenatal care. Don't smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
  • Offer your baby a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
  • Don't cover your baby's head, and avoid overheating.
  • Don't use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Your baby should receive all recommended vaccinations.
  • Be sure to give your baby supervised, awake tummy time each day. This will help development and reduce the risk of flat head (positional plagiocephaly).

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about sleep and newborns.

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