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Two infant sleep risks are on the rise

A mom kisses her sleeping baby on the cheek.

Aug. 21, 2019—If you're a parent, chances are you've heard of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). That's when a baby younger than 1 year dies suddenly during sleep for unknown reasons. It's good to know that SIDS deaths declined in recent years. But the number of babies who died in bed from two other preventable causes went up, a new study shows.

For this study, researchers looked at infant deaths from accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed. These tragedies accounted for about 25% of all sudden deaths during sleep among U.S. babies in 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

The research team compared deaths in bed in different states. They also compared deaths among black babies and white babies and girls and boys.

Here are some of the things they found:

  • The number of babies who died in bed from accidental suffocation or strangulation more than tripled between 1999 and 2016.
  • Infant deaths in bed went up for all babies. But they went up higher for black babies than for white babies.
  • The highest numbers of deaths occurred in the Midwest and the South. The lowest numbers were in California.

The study appeared in the Maternal and Child Health Journal.

Safe sleep for baby

The researchers called the findings of this study "alarming." They said the research will help them make new theories about why children die in bed. It also may help them learn why more of these deaths occur among black versus white babies.

In the meantime, you can take steps to help keep your baby safe. Putting your little one to sleep on his or her back is one of the best steps. It can help reduce the risk of SIDS.

But it's also important to keep soft objects—like stuffed toys, bumper pads or bedding—out of the baby's sleep area. And while it's safe to share a room with your baby, you should not share a bed.

These steps can reduce the risk of suffocation or strangulation, as well as SIDS, according to experts.

Get more safety tips

Learn more about safe sleep for babies from this infographic.

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