If you have a new baby in your life, or one on the way, you’ll want to be aware of the new consumer safety regulations, research and safe sleep guidelines this summer.
Here is a quick overview of all of the big news that you’ll want to know about to reduce the risk of sleep-related infant death. Be sure to share with anyone who is helping out with child care or thinking of buying gifts for your new baby.
New Safe Sleep Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics
In June, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released its first update to safe infant sleep recommendations since 2016. The recommendations, which apply to children up to 1 year old, are based on an evidence review from nearly 160 scientific studies since 2015.
The AAP highlights that studies have demonstrated an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and sudden unexplained infant death syndrome (SUIDS) when babies overheat while sleeping. This, in part, has lead the AAP to recommend that weighted blankets, weighted sleepers and weighted swaddles should not be placed “on or near” a sleeping infant and infants should not wear hats indoors except in the first hours of life or in the neo-natal intensive care unit as it can lead to your baby overheating.
In its recommendations, the AAP also urges parents to make sure your baby sleeps on a flat – not inclined – surface during sleep and strongly discourages bedsharing. These practices are often used as means to alleviate the sleepless nights which are a stressful part of everyone’s journey through parenthood during this first year of life.
“Parents might think that their infant is waking up too much during the night and fear that something is wrong,” said Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP in a news release from AAP. “But babies by their nature wake up frequently during the night. Although this can be understandably frustrating for parents who are exhausted and losing out on their own sleep, babies have to wake to feed every 2-3 hours, so this is normal and healthy, and should be expected. When parents have questions about their infant’s sleep, they should always ask their pediatrician for guidance.”
Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP is the lead author of the statement and technical report, generated by the AAP Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and the AAP Committee on Fetus and Newborn.
In the article How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained on HealthyChildren.org, Dr. Moon walks through the recommendations and some ways parents and caregivers can help create a safe sleep environment.
The policy statement, “Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2022 Recommendations for Reducing Infant Deaths in the Sleep Environment,” published in the July 2022 Pediatrics and the accompanying technical report providing the evidence base for the updated recommendations will be a focus of the upcoming Colorado Infant Safe Sleep Partnership meeting on July 11. Dr. Susan Hwang, a neonatologist with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, will present on the policy statement and technical report.
New Law and Consumer Safety Rules in the U.S. are Creating a Marketplace that Promotes Safe Sleep
In May of this year, President Joe Biden signed into law the Safe Sleep for Babies Act, which bans inclined sleepers and crib bumper pads, both of which are unsafe for infant sleep and together have been linked with close to 200 reported deaths. It will be illegal to make or sell both crib bumpers and inclined sleepers after November of this year, making it easier and less confusing for parents and baby shower gift buyers to follow the AAP guideline discouraging babies from sleeping on an inclined surface.
Enacting this law was an important and critical next step toward creating a marketplace everywhere, for every baby, in the U.S. that will help parents and anyone shopping for families with a new infant prevent sleep-related infant deaths. Last year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a new federal rule to ensure products marketed or intended for infant sleep provide a safe sleep environment for babies under 5 months old. Any product intended or marketed for infant sleep, such as inclined sleepers, travel and compact bassinets, and in-bed sleepers, which have been linked to dozens of infant deaths, must meet this new federal safety standard.
Kate Jankovsky, childhood adversity prevention manager with the Violence and Injury Prevention-Mental Health Promotion Branch of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and member of the Colorado Infant Safe Sleep Partnership reflected on this new federal safety standard at the time it was announced last year. “This change will be historic and save lives in Colorado,” said Jankovsky. “[The new CPSC federal safety standard for infant sleep products] will make it easier for all consumers to buy, use and give infant sleep products as gifts. Today, many people are unknowingly buying products known to be unsafe for an infant to sleep.” Sadly, only a few days before the CPSC rule went into effect on June 23, 2022, Fisher-Price issued a safety warning about rockers after 13 infant deaths.
WhatToExpect.com shared more about what parents need to know about the Safe Sleep for Babies Act when the law was signed, including reasons why things like baby rockers and bouncers will be recalled — or are safe — based on the new law.
Your Community Impacts Your Ability to Create a Safe Sleep Environment At Home - Particularly for BIPOC People
While advocates and professionals in Colorado emphasize the promotion of safe sleep practices at home and in child care settings, environmental changes are necessary to create safe sleep for every baby, everywhere. Sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) is the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States, the third leading cause of death for Coloradans under age 18 and accounts for significant infant mortality rate disparities in Colorado. These tragic realities for people of color were also identified by the AAP.
According to the AAP news release, while overall numbers of deaths have declined, persistent racial and ethnic disparities exist that reflect broader societal inequities, according to research. The rate of sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs) among Black and American Indian/Alaska Native infants was more than double and almost triple, respectively, that of white infants (85 per 100,000 live births) in 2010-2013.
Social, economic, and environmental inequities, such as food insecurity and poverty in Colorado, provide an explanation as to why Colorado communities are experiencing significant infant mortality rate disparities. It is for this reason that the Infant Safe Sleep Partnership (ISSP) is focused on working collaboratively with families, providers and other community stakeholders to address three priority areas.
The mission of the Colorado Infant Safe Sleep Partnership is to support families, providers, organizations and policymakers to increase infant safe sleep practices and address related barriers and disparities, through education, practice change and systems improvement.
What's NOT Big News - "World first breakthrough could prevent SIDS"
That’s what the press release from the Sidney Children’s Hospitals Network was titled in May of this year when new research was released related to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The world took notice because all families deserve to have the support they need to create environments at home and in the community for their infants to sleep safely. The ABC’s of safe sleep are simple and easy: babies should be Alone on their Backs and in a Crib. Understandably, it’s a parent’s worst nightmare to follow all the safety guidelines and advice from their pediatrician, only to have their infant tragically die while sleeping as a result of unexplained causes or SIDS.
Perhaps that is why, when a new study was released in May of this year highlighting the identification of the first biochemical marker, Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), that could help detect babies more at risk of SIDS while they are alive, the news spread quickly through social media and traditional media news outlets. What made this news even more compelling was the fact that the lead author of the study, Dr. Carmel Harrington, was a mourning mother who lost her son Damien to SIDS 29 years ago. Still, numerous news reports have cautioned that while the preliminary findings offer hope, no – the cause of SIDS has not been identified.
The Atlantic explains how this inspiring research project went viral for the wrong reasons, causing a media train wreck many parents, Illuminate staff included, could look away from.
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