ST. LOUIS -- Revised American Academy of Pediatrics' guidelines onpreventing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) recommend putting babiesto sleep in their own cribs instead of in their parents' beds.
"The recommendations are very straightforward and clear: Babiesshould not be asleep in the same bed that their parents are sleepingin," said James Kemp, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at SaintLouis University and a world-recognized researcher on SIDS.
Kemp was one of three physicians acknowledged in the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics new position paper on sudden infant death, whichwas released on Oct. 10. October is SIDS Awareness Month.
The policy statement strengthens recommendations offered in thelast American Academy of Pediatrics paper on infant sleep position andsudden infant death syndrome, which was published in 2000, said Kemp,who is director of the Sleep Disorder Program at SSM Cardinal GlennonChildren's Hospital.
"The recommendation five years ago said that in somecircumstances, allowing a baby to sleep in an adult bed can bedangerous. This one said you shouldn't do it. It's a gutsy type ofstatement," he said.
Kemp's research, published in the October 2003 issue ofPediatrics, found that babies who sleep in an adult bed face a risk ofsuffocation that is as much as 40 times greater than babies who sleepin standard cribs.
He also has found that SIDS is more common amongAfrican-American infants than in babies of other races because they aremore likely to be put to sleep in adult beds or on surfaces other thancribs, such as sofas.
"There are varied reasons for sleeping with your kids. In St.Louis, we found that the practice was more common among families whocould not afford safe cribs," Kemp said.
Advocates of bed-sharing argue that allowing a baby to sleep in his or her mother's bed promotes breastfeeding and closeness.
The new American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation advisesputting babies to sleep in "a separate but proximate sleepingenvironment" -- a safe crib, bassinet or cradle that is located in theparents' bedroom.
"Infants may be brought into bed for nursing or comforting butshould be returned to their own crib or bassinet when the parent isready to return to sleep," the policy statement said. "The task forcerecommends that the infant's crib or bassinet be placed in the parent'sbedroom, which, when placed close to their bed, will allow for moreconvenient breastfeeding and contact."
The policy statement makes other recommendations about wherebabies should sleep: They shouldn't share beds with other children, norsleep with an adult on a couch or armchair.
The new policy reiterates that infants should be placed ontheir backs -- not on their stomachs and sides -- to sleep. Babiesshould sleep on a firm crib mattress, covered by a sheet, with no soft,cushy bedding such as pillows, comforters or quilts, in a room thatisn't overly hot. Smoking during pregnancy increases a baby's risk ofSIDS, and giving pacifiers at naptime and bedtime are associated with areduced risk of SIDS.
"This is a clear recommendation from the Academy of Pediatricsthat looked at a number of factors that contribute to babies dyingsuddenly and in their sleep," Kemp said.
Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine hasthe distinction of awarding the first M.D. degree west of theMississippi River. Saint Louis University School of Medicine is apioneer in geriatric medicine, organ transplantation, chronic diseaseprevention, cardiovascular disease, neurosciences and vaccine research,among others. The School of Medicine trains physicians and biomedicalscientists, conducts medical research, and provides health services ona local, national and international level.
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