New Study Finds Parents Using Dangerous Soft Bedding for Infants

Posted on December 1, 2014

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics found that despite warnings by the American Accademy of Pediatrics in 1996, many parents are still using soft bedding and blankets in infant cribs which can cause suffocation.

For the article the researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control analyzed data which was collected between 1993 to 2010 in the National Infant Sleep Position Study. The scientists in that study surveyed 19,000 parents by telephone. The participants were selected randomly.

Their analysis found that between 1993 and 2000 parents use of infant bedding declined approximately 23% each year. But in recent years the declines have either slowed down substantially or stopped. Use of infant bedding declined roughly 23 percent annually from 1993 to 2000. In recent years, however, the declines have slowed or stalled entirely. in 1993, nearly seven out of eight parents surveyed used blankets or soft bedding for their infants. After doctors warned against the practice, those numbers declined. But as of 2010, more than half of parents surveyed were still using dangerous bedding.

It seems that the message of the dangers of soft blankets and bedding didn't get to everyone. Young mothers, blacks and Hispanics were most likely to report using the dangerous bedding in the survey. These numbers are quite alarming to pediatricians. Soft blankets, pillows and soft crib bumpers can increase the likelihood of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) substantially because they increase the risk for suffocation. Current recommendations call for infants to sleep with no soft blankets either under or over them.

The current recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is to put infants on a bare sheet, with no blanket, pillows or other soft items. Infants can roll over and smother quickly as they do not have enough strength to move their heads if their noses are up against a soft blanket. During cold weather, doctors recommend warm onesies or sleep sacks which have a better safety profile. You can read the full article from Pediatrics here in .pdf format.