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Soft bedding continues to claim infant lives despite warnings, the study shows



NEW YORK (CNN) – Amanda Saucedo did everything the natural parenting blogs she read asked her to do before bringing her newborn son Ben to bed to sleep together in October 2014.

“I was a single mother of two children, so I slept in any way I could get it,” said Saucedo, who was 27 at the time. “I was like ‘These people say it’s safe if I take these precautions’, so that’s what I did – just a pillow, a blanket and only the mother in bed with a baby who is exclusively breastfed.”

Saucedo had successfully slept with Ben’s older brother, 3-year-old Trae, and thought she was even more careful with Ben.

But in the morning, Ben turned 30 days old, Saucedo woke up to find him dead ̵

1; a victim of sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS.

“There was nothing on him when I woke up,” Saucedo said. “We slept on my bed, so of course the mattress will not be as firm as a crib mattress. So it could have compromised his airway, or maybe I pulled out his face and he did not get enough oxygen. I’m not really sure.

“Immediately I blamed myself, of course,” she said. “Even during the 911 call, I told them ‘I know you should not sleep with babies, but that was the only way he would sleep.’ “

The SIDS number does not decrease

Despite decades of public health announcements designed to prevent the sudden death of an infant or SUID, about 3,500 babies die from it each year in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This makes SUID the leading cause of death for infants between 1 month and 1 year.

(SIDS is a subset of SUID. After an examination, a SUID death may be by suffocation via airway obstruction or entangled in bedding and blankets, infection, suffocation, injury, or cardiac or metabolic dysfunction. is said to have died of SIDS.)

“These deaths are still happening – and they are happening to well-meaning parents,” said Dr. Rachel Moon, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on SIDS and author of the AAP Political Declaration on Safe Sleep for Infants.

“We have been at the same rate of sleep-related deaths since around 1998,” she added. “And the rate in the United States is much higher than in most developed – and even some not-so-developed countries.”


These deaths are still happening – and they are happening to well-meaning parents.

–Dr. Rachel Moon, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics task force for SIDS


First recognized in 1969, in the early 1990s, researchers found that having an infant sleeping on its back on a solid crib surface was associated with the lowest risk. In 1994, a massive public awareness campaign called the “Back to Sleep” campaign began to convince parents to only put babies to sleep on their backs and not their bellies.

Other key features of the campaign were the avoidance of soft bedding or blankets in cribs along with crib bumpers, decorative pillows, toys or anything else.

Now, a new study of nearly 5,000 babies who died suddenly between 2011 and 2017 found nearly 70% slept in an unsafe environment according to the AAP guidelines for safe sleep, such as sleeping on soft surfaces or with choking hazards such as blankets, pillows and crib decorations added by caregivers.

“In terms of soft bedding, it’s usually blankets, pillows and bumper pillows,” said Moon, division chief of general pediatrics at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. She was not involved in the investigation.

“Bed splitting rarely occurs in the absence of pillows and blankets,” Moon said, adding that beds, sofas and chairs can be extremely dangerous, mainly because “they are so soft and fluffy.”


Many parents focus on sleeping position (which is very important), but do not think it is so important to remove soft bedding.

–Dr. Rachel Moon, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics task force for SIDS


But there are many unsafe sleeping situations that parents do not consider, she said.

“Many parents focus on sleeping position (which is very important), but do not think it is that important to remove soft bedding,” Moon said.

However, the new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found 75% of infant deaths due to airway obstruction due to soft bedding. In fact, only 1% to 2% of unexplained deaths had no uncertain sleep factors.

“We always want a baby to be on his back, in a crib, basin or other separate flat, solid surface, both of which are close to the parents’ bed and have nothing in or on it except a thin close-fitting sheet and the baby, “said Moon.

“I know it’s hard to sleep safely for every single sleep, but keep doing it!”, She added. “Remember that the safest baby is one that is on the back, in a crib or a basin or other flat, solid surface with nothing in it.”

‘Absolute nightmare’

It is a message that Saucedo will never forget. In the six years since Ben’s death, she has turned her grief into a crusade to ensure that no other mother makes her mistake.

She is a volunteer for First Candle, one of the oldest SIDS nonprofits committed to educating parents about SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths, while providing support to grieving families who have suffered a loss.

Saucedo is also taking its message to other moms on Facebook with Benny Bears, a nonprofit foundation she and her family created to spread the message of safe sleep practices recommended by the AAP:

  • Babies should sleep on their backs at all naps and at night until they are 1 year old.
  • This is true even for babies struggling with gastroesophageal reflux or GERD. “Some parents are afraid that babies will suffocate when they are on their backs, but the baby’s airway anatomy and gag reflex prevent this from happening,” says AAP.
  • If a baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, infant or sling, move your baby to a firm sleeping surface on his or her back as soon as possible.
  • Make sure that the surface of the crib, pram or playground is firm – so firm that there are no depressions when the baby is lying on it. Look for one that meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and use only a fitted sheet designed for the specific product.
  • Nothing else should be in the crib except the baby. No decorative bumpers, no cute toys, no pillows, nothing but the baby. “If you are worried about your baby getting cold, you can use infant sleepwear, such as a portable blanket. In general, your baby should only be dressed with one layer more than you are wearing,” says AAP.
  • Only bring your baby into your bed to feed or comfort. Bed sharing is not recommended for babies.
  • Never place your baby to sleep on a sofa, couch or armchair, and do not let a baby fall asleep on nursing pillows or pillow-like deck chairs.

Despite his grief, Saucedo never hesitates to tell his story if it might save a life.

“No matter how hard you have to practice safe sleep – every single time – because you do not ever think it will be you until you are the one who wakes up and finds every parent’s absolute nightmare.”

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner company. All rights reserved.

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