BOCA RATON, Fla. — Accidental infant death related to suffocation and strangulations in beds are on the rise. The numbers have tripled since 1999. Researchers at Florida Atlantic University want that trend to go down and recently looked at the number of deaths.
They couldn’t explain a cause but found disparities with race, where families live and birth order.
“Children that are the higher birth order, so your fourth child, is significantly more at risk than your first second or third,” said lead author Joanna Drowos, D.O., M.P.H., M.B.A.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says parents can take steps to protect their babies, including laying the child on his or her back and removing all objects from the crib.
“The safest thing is just a firm sleep surface with nothing there,” said Drowos.
Room sharing is encouraged, but pediatricians say the child should never share the bed.
Drowos said campaigns in the 1990s like "Safe to Sleep" worked to lower the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. She hopes her research will lead to new campaigns to help parents.
“If we can raise awareness that this is something that happens to infants, and that it is a cause of mortality and that it is preventable,” said Drowos. "Our goal is that education and designing interventions can help to bring that rate down.”