NIH campaign promotes safe sleep for babies

September 27, 2012

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is revamping its Back to Sleep campaign for the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome to address a wider awareness of all causes of sudden unexpected infant death. The goal is to promote education among health care providers, parents, and caregivers regarding safe sleep practices for all infants. More >>

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is revamping its Back to Sleep campaign for the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) to address a wider awareness of all causes of sudden unexpected infant death (SUID). The goal is to promote education among health care providers, parents, and caregivers regarding safe sleep practices for all infants.

Safe to Sleep stresses placing healthy infants aged younger than 1 year on their backs to sleep at all times. The new initiative calls for giving infants their own personal safe sleep environment with a firm mattress free of any toys, loose blankets, pillows, or crib bumpers that could accidentally suffocate them or entrap them between the bedding or mattress and a wall or crib side rail. The guidance also states that babies should never sleep on an adult bed or share a bed with adults.

The campaign emphasizes the importance of breastfeeding whenever possible because the practice is associated with reduced risk for SIDS. In addition, parents and caregivers should eliminate other risk factors to infant health such as overheating, exposure to tobacco smoke, and maternal abuse of alcohol or drugs.

The Safe to Sleep initiative promotes the revised recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for reducing SIDS and other sleep-related causes of SUID. The AAP, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all support the campaign.

Since the debut of the Back to Sleep campaign in 1994, deaths from SIDS in the United States have plunged more than 50% overall.

Go back to the current issue of the eConsult.