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More Than One Infant Dies Each Week in South Carolina Due to Unsafe Sleep

MUSC Children's Health
September 29, 2021
An overhead view of a baby in a crib.

Unsafe sleep deaths are preventable

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are about 3,500 sleep-related deaths among U.S. babies each year. For a baby in South Carolina, a sleep- related death is 18 times more likely to occur than a motor vehicle-related death. Creating a safe sleep space can reduce the risk of all sleep-related infant deaths. There are three steps to safe sleep which are known as the "ABC's of Safe Sleep."

A: It is important to have your baby sleep alone. Babies should sleep alone for both night-long sleeps and naps. Your child should be alone in the crib without other people, stuffed animals, pillows, bumpers or blankets. Babies can be swaddled or wear sleep sacks which provide comfort and also reduce the risk of suffocation from loose or fluffy blankets.

B: Babies should sleep on their backs, not on their stomachs or sides. Babies are not more likely to choke when they’re on their backs. Side positions make it easier for babies to roll onto their stomachs. Babies may fall asleep in a car seat or stroller and should be moved to a safe sleep space on their back as soon as possible.

C: Babies should sleep in a crib. Bed sharing is not recommended for any babies. In addition, babies should be sleeping on a firm, flat surface with a tight fitted sheet. The mattress used should be specifically for cribs, eliminating any spaces or gaps in between the mattress and the sides of the crib.The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parent and baby sleep in the same room for the first six months to year of life.

Please speak with a pediatrician or primary care provider regarding specific questions or access to any of the items listed above.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has additional information and recommendations to reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths.