OBJECTIVE: To determine the contribution of prone sleeping, bed sharing, and sleeping outside an infant crib to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). METHODS: We conducted a retrospective descriptive study of all SIDS cases in Alaska from January 1, 1992, through December 31, 1997. Reviewed data sources included maternal and infant medical records, autopsy reports, birth and death certificates, police and state trooper death scene investigations, and occasionally home interviews. RESULTS: The death certificate identified SIDS as a cause of death for 130 infants (cause-specific infant mortality rate: 2.0 per 1000 live births). Among infants for whom this information was known, 113 (98%) of 115 were found in the prone position, sleeping outside an infant crib, or sleeping with another person. By contrast, 2 (1.7%) were found alone and supine in their crib (1 of whom was found with a blanket wrapped around his face). Of 40 infants who slept with a parent at the time of death, only 1 infant who slept supine with a non-drug-using parent on an adult nonwater mattress was identified. CONCLUSION: Almost all SIDS deaths in Alaska occurred in association with prone sleeping, bed sharing, or sleeping outside a crib. In the absence of other risk factors, SIDS deaths associated with parental bed sharing were rare.
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