There has been a 50 percent drop in the number of reported cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the past couple of decades, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note. Whether this is due to actual public health improvements or merely reflects a change in how SIDS is recorded remains to be seen.
In an attempt to shed more light on the issue, the CDC is creating a new database to monitor SIDS trends called the Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Case Registry.
Researchers hope to collect more details surrounding infant deaths – such as the type of sleep environment and body position when put to sleep – that may one day aid prevention efforts, said Carrie Shapiro-Mendoza, a senior scientist at the CDC.
“It’s really difficult to distinguish between SIDS and unexplained infant death from suffocation,” Shapiro-Mendoza added.
SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants up to the age of one year, according to the CDC, and some 2,200 infants deaths each year are attributed to SIDS.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to place infants on their backs for sleep, use a firm sleep surface, sleep in the same room – but not the same bed – as the baby, and to keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib.