Roughly 61% of mothers shared a bed with their infant in 2015, one of several dangerous behaviors they reported, according to a new study.
The findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) come as about 3,500 infants die of sleep-related causes each year.
“Unfortunately, too many babies in this country are lost to sleep-related deaths that might be prevented,” CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., said in a news release. “We must do more to ensure every family knows the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations — babies should sleep on their backs, without any toys or soft bedding, and in their own crib. Parents are encouraged to share a room with the baby, but not the same bed. These strategies will help reduce the risk and protect our babies from harm.”
To assess whether mothers are complying with AAP recommendations, the CDC used survey data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System. About 61 % of mothers reported bed-sharing in 2015. Of the 14 states included in that data set, West Virginia had the lowest rate of bed-sharing at 49% while the rate went as high as 78.9% in Alaska, according to the study published today in a CDC Vital Signs report.
Researchers also found 38.5% were using soft bedding such as bumper pads (19.1%), plush blankets (17.5%) and pillows (7.1%). Soft bedding use across 13 states and New York City ranged from 28.7% in Illinois to 52.6% in New York City.
About 21.6% of mothers did not place their baby to sleep on his or her back, according to data from 32 states and New York City. Wisconsin had the lowest rates of improper sleep position while Louisiana had the highest. When zeroing in on 15 states over time, researchers found a significant decline in improper positioning, which fell from 27.2% in 2009 to 19.4% in 2015.
Mothers who were young, minorities, or had low education or low income tended to report more unsafe sleep practices. The CDC recommends pediatricians advise all parents on safe sleep and help them overcome barriers to following the guidance.
“This report shows that we need to do better at promoting and followingsafe sleep recommendations,” Jennifer Bombard, M.S.P.H., scientist in CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health and lead author of the analysis, said in a news release. “This is particularly important for populations where data show infants may be at a higher risk of sleep-related deaths.”