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Unsafe sleeping environment linked to sudden infant death syndrome

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Minnesota health officials are warning that the majority of sudden unexplained infant deaths in the state are related to an unsafe sleeping environment.

Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, is the unexplained death of a seemingly healthy baby under a year old.

Baby playingAnd while the number of sudden unexplained infant deaths remains stable in Minnesota, it’s still a concern parents of infants need to be aware of.

According to the state Department of Health, research shows 82 percent of 90 sudden infant deaths in 2016 and 2017 involved unsafe sleeping environments.

“Typically it happens when they’re sleeping, when they’re unobserved,” said Dr. Kara Fine, a Pediatrician at Mayo Clinic. “So it’s a baby who has been put down to sleep and a parent comes back and they are found unresponsive.”

While the exact reason for SIDS is hard to determine, doctors noted the peak SIDS cases to be during the ages of two to four months.

“There’s one big thing that we found makes a huge difference, and that is placing all infants on their backs to sleep,” said Dr. Fine. “That became a recommendation in the 90s and there’s been a big decrease in the incidents of sudden infant death syndrome since that recommendation was made.”

Most babies involved were not sleeping in cribs, sleeping with loose bedding or had toys that were suffocation hazards.

Dr. Fine has a few recommendations on how to provide your infant with a safe sleeping environment.Baby sleeping in crib

“The biggest thing is a firm, flat surface without any other blankets or stuffed animals, anything that might obstruct a babies breathing or get in their way,” said Dr. Fine.

Dr. Fine say’s the safest place for babies to sleep is in a bassinet during the early months, and then a crib at any time.

In 2016, the state recorded 58 SIDS cases, 32 cases in 2017, and 51 cases in 2018.

Along with at home, health officials want to emphasize the importance of safe sleep practices when leaving infants with relatives or child care providers.

For more information on SIDS, click here.

Sarah Gannon

Sarah Gannon

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