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Soft bedding to blame for many infant deaths

A baby asleep on a firm mattress.

May 17, 2019—Accidental suffocation is the No. 1 cause of injury deaths in U.S. babies under a year old. Most of these babies suffocate in bed. Now a new study sheds light on why. Typically, soft bedding is to blame.

Researchers reviewed more than 1,800 sudden and unexpected infant deaths between 2011 and 2014.

Among deaths that involved suffocation, 69% were caused by soft bedding. Most often that bedding was a blanket. And typically babies died while sleeping in an adult bed.

Other causes of suffocation included "overlay" and "wedging." Overlay is when a baby is smothered by someone in bed moving against them or on top of them. Wedging is when a baby's face becomes trapped between two objects, such as a mattress and the wall.

The study appeared in the journal Pediatrics.

Keep your baby safe

Tragically, these deaths were all preventable, the researchers said. And each death underscores the need to follow these safe sleep guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Share a room, not a bed. Put your baby to sleep in a crib or bassinet near you.
  • Use a firm sleep surface. A mattress shouldn't indent when your baby is on it. It should also fit tightly in the crib.
  • Keep soft objects away from your sleeping baby. That includes blankets, pillows and bumper pads.
  • Remember: Back is best. Babies should always sleep on their backs—at bedtime and for naps.

Recall alert!

Are you tucking your baby in a Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play sleeper or a Kids II Rocking Sleeper? Learn about the recent safety recalls. And to search for recalls on these and other baby products, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's recalls page.

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