From Our Archives
WASHINGTON, D.C., 1997 - Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS),
also known as crib death, is a cause of infant deaths that remains
unexplained even after autopsy. It is estimated that 10,000 deaths
from SIDS occur each year. While there are many theories as to
possible triggering events, the cause of SIDS remains a mystery.
It has been noted that SIDS occurs more frequently
when infants sleep on their bellies (prone) as compared with sleeping
on their backs (supine) or sides.
The American Academy of Pediatrics in 1992 recommended
that all healthy infants be placed either on their backs or sides
for sleeping. This recommendation has been partly credited with
reducing the percentage of U.S. parents placing infants on their
bellies for sleep from 70% in 1992 to 29% in 1995.
Studies have shown that over one third of SIDS deaths
occur while infants are in organized child care environments.
This is while only 17% of U.S. infants attend such care facilities.
A recent survey study published in the journal
(1997;100:75-78) was designed to evaluate the policies of child
care centers in regard to infant sleep positions. Only 57% of
the centers surveyed were aware of recommendations regarding infant
sleep positions. Infants were placed on their bellies in half
of the centers and exclusively on their bellies in 20%.
The authors of the study concluded that educational efforts must be directed at both parents and child care providers in order to minimize an important preventable risk factor for SIDS.