A recent study published in Pediatrics revealed potentially alarming news for parents. The study published on August 15 has found that despite numerous warnings from campaigns reaching back to the 1990s, many parents are not following recommended guidelines for putting babies to bed that could lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Even when being recorded on video, study participants placed their babies in unsafe sleeping positions or with objects known to increase SIDS risk.
According to ABC News, study authors said, “Although safe sleep messages have been emphasized for years, our data suggest that parents are not strictly adhering to the guidance on safe sleep environments.” Some parents moved their children during the night, often to an environment even riskier than the first.
Although originally not a study on SIDS risk, this was the first study conducted recording parents at home instead of using surveys to gather potentially less objective feedback, according to CBS News.
At a rate of higher than 90 percent, the majority of parents put babies to sleep with things that elevated risk of suffocation, such as pillows, plush toys, and bumper pads, or in sleep positions other than the recommended supine one, meaning on their backs.
Dr. Ian Paul, one of the study’s researchers and a professor at Pennsylvania State College, said he observed these and other ways babies were placed in environments that were not safe. He said he was “surprised and alarmed,” and that “I’ve been a pediatrician for 18 years. I am not naive to think parents listen to everything, but [the fact that] almost every baby had loose bedding in their sleep environment was surprising to me.”
It is not recommended for infants to go to sleep on their sides or their stomachs. Co-sleeping, in which babies sleep with parents, is also believed to be unsafe. Cribs should be empty of stuffed animals, pillows, blankets, and other potential suffocation or strangulation hazards.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 3,500 infants die annually in the United States from Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID). In 2014, forty-four percent, or around 1,500, of those deaths where from SIDS while less than one-third were from unknown causes.
One of the possible explanations offered from the authors was that some parents might assume SIDS could never happen to their child. An unfortunate fact is that no one is immune to harm or tragedy. New parents can do their best to protect their children by following recommendations for health and safety, including becoming familiar with how to lower risk of SIDS.
New parents might also want to consider protecting their children’s financial future. Without proper estate planning, assets can become subject to probate, a sometimes lengthy and public process. Parents should consider establishing a will and/or living trust see that their children are provided for, but doing so does not have to be stressful or expensive. A legal document assistant, LDA, can help set up these and other legal documents for less than what an attorney might charge.
LDAs could also assist with documents that appoint guardians according to parents’ wishes for what could happen if their children are orphaned. Please contact CALDA.org for more information.