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Infant suffocation deaths rise, SIDS drops.

Infant deaths caused by accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed quadrupled between 1984 and 2004, according to a review of United States infant mortality data.

Previous studies of infant deaths have not focused on deaths caused by accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed (ASSB), wrote Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, Ph.D., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and her colleagues. But ASSB deaths may be prevented by educating parents and caregivers about safe infant environments, they noted.

In this study, the researchers reviewed data on infant ASSB deaths from 1984 to 2004 taken from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, to include years before and after the release of revised CDC guidelines for death scene investigations in 1996 (Pediatrics 2009;123:533-9). The change in classification of deaths may have contributed to the significant increase in ASSB deaths, they noted.

The overall rates of sudden, unexplained infant deaths remained relatively stable from 1997 through 2004, but the deaths from ASSB increased from 4% to 14% while the deaths attributed to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) decreased from 78% to 59%.

Based on data from 2002 to 2004, deaths among black infants were more often attributed to ASSB, compared with white infants (27 vs. 9 deaths per 100,000 live births). Deaths among boys were more often attributed to ASSB, compared with girls (13 vs. 10 deaths per 100,000 live births).

The reasons for the increase in ASSB deaths remain unknown, Dr. Shapiro-Mendoza and her associates said. But based on data from 2003 to 2004, overlay was the most often reported circumstance of ASSB deaths in infants (34%), followed by suffocation by bedding (14%) and being wedged or trapped (14%), among others. In more than half of the ASSB deaths (53%), parents were sleeping in the same beds with the infants.

Safe sleep promotions, such as the Back to Sleep campaign (initiated in 1994), and a change in classification may have reduced the number of SIDS deaths, but more studies of sleep environments are needed to determine risk factors for ASSB, the researchers said.

The decrease in SIDS deaths and increase in ASSB deaths suggests that other factors related to infants" sleeping environments, such as bed sharing, should be addressed. "'We know from NICHD [National Institute of Child Health and Human Development] surveys since 1992 that the incidence of bed sharing has doubled," Dr. John Kattwinkel, professor of neonatology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, said in an interview.

But that doesn't mean physicians should discourage mothers from breastfeeding in bed.

"There's nothing wrong with taking the baby to bed to breast-feed, but when it's time to go to sleep, put the baby in its own environment," he said.

Dr. Kattwinkel chaired the American Academy of Pediatrics" Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome during 2005-2006. The task force statement remains the AAP's official stance, which is that room sharing, but not bed sharing, is the safest sleep environment for babies.

The researchers had no financial conflicts to disclose.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

BY HEIDI SPLETE

Senior Writer

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Title Annotation:NEWS; sudden infant death syndrome
Author:Splete, Heidi
Publication:Family Practice News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 15, 2009
Words:511
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