Riley Hospital recommends safe sleep practices to reduce infant deaths

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Officials with IU Health want parents to aware of safe sleep practices to reduce the number of sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID).

Dr. Emily Scott is a pediatric hospitalist with Riley Hospital for Children. She said safe sleep is essential for all newborns when they arrive home from the hospital. She said the vast majority of infant deaths that take place from 28 days to the first year of life are due to unsafe sleep practices.

She recommends the ‘ABCs’ of safe sleep to help parents remember the things to do to keep their baby safe.

-ALL by myself

-On my BACK

-In my CRIB

"Parents need to know that it's never safe to have their infant in bed with them," said Dr. Scott. "It can lead to suffocation, parents rolling over on the baby, the baby getting trapped in between the side of the bed and the wall. There's really no safe time to sleep with your baby."

Dr. Scott said parents should limit the number of extra items in the infant's bed; with no bumper pads, extra blankets, stuffed animals or pillows.

"The only cute thing in their baby's bassinet should be their baby," she said.

Jeena Siela is the maternal and child health director for March of Dimes Indiana.

She said the infant mortality rate in Indiana has continued to rise over the past few years.

"In Indiana, we unfortunately rank in the bottom 10 states in the nation as far as infant mortality rates," she said. "In 2016, our number was 7.5, which means 7.5 babies died per 1,000 and that unfortunately is a fairly high number. The United States rate is about six and the Healthy People 2020 goal is also about six. So, it's a much higher rate."

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, there were 623 infant deaths in 2016. Nearly 14 percent of those were due to SUIDS, which includes unsafe sleep practices.

Siela is a mother of two and said she has made it her mission to inform parents of safe sleep practices. She gave birth to her son, Logan, in August.

"I can tell you firsthand that it's really tough, especially those first couple weeks and months as you're establishing a sleep routine to practice safe sleep," she said. "Sometimes it's so hard when you're exhausted. So, the best thing you can do is have a safe sleep environment so you can be ready when the baby falls asleep."

Siela also stresses the importance of newborns sleeping by themselves, with nothing in their crib.  She said during the colder months, she wraps her son in a Sleep Sack to avoid having blankets in his crib.

Dr. Scott with Riley Hospital for Children said if parents want their baby close by while they sleep, they should consider room-sharing, but never co-sleeping or bed-sharing.

"What I tell parents to do is to set their baby's bassinet right next to their bed, so it's really easy to get the baby up to feed in the middle of the night."

She said the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room sharing for up to six months after birth.