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Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

Suffocation and Infant Sleep Positioners

By November 23, 2012

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Over the years, a surprisingly large number of infant sleep positioners were developed to help parents with sleep issues and problems, with claims of preventing SIDS and plagiocephaly to helping babies sleep better.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of these infant sleep positioners were not approved by the FDA. In addition, the FDA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all issued statements advising that infant sleep positioners not be used unless prescribed by a pediatrician.

A new report from the CDC, "Suffocation Deaths Associated with Use of Infant Sleep Positioners -- United States, 1997-2011," highlights how important it is to follow these recommendations against using infant sleep positioners.

The report describes 13 cases of infants who have died while using infant sleep positioners to either prevent their baby from rolling over, to help with reflux, prevent SIDS, or prevent plagiocephaly, etc.

The report also reinforces the ideas that to keep their babies safe while sleeping, parents and other caregivers should remember that:

  • supine sleeping is safest - they should place infants to sleep on their backs
  • use of an infant sleep positioners is not necessary while your baby is supine and is potentially hazardous
  • they should never put pillows, comforters, or unprescribed infant sleep positioners in an infant's sleep environment

Talk to your pediatrician if you think your baby sleeps better on his stomach or if you are worried about her head getting flat, especially before you switch to an unsafe sleeping position or use an infant sleep positioners.

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