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American parents should think twice before placing a random blanket, quilt, or pillow in their baby's crib.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data from a National Infant Sleep Position Study to find that 55 percent of U.S infants are sleeping with bedding materials that may increase their risk of sudden infant death syndrome, the NIH reported.
The recent study was funded by the NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and was published in Pediatrics.
The new study analyzed data from the National Infant Sleep Position Study, which surveyed nearly 19,000 parents via phone between the years 1992 to 2010 about their infant-care practices, according to various media reports.
Researchers found that 7 out of 8 parents were using soft bedding, like blankets, for their babies in 1993, reported the New York Daily News. While that number dropped in ensuing years, researchers found that in 2010 still more than half of the parents used unsafe bedding for their babies.
“Parents have good intentions but may not understand that blankets, quilts and pillows increase a baby’s risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation,” said Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, a senior scientist in the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health and one of the researchers in the study, according to NIH.
The study found that around 83 percent of teen mothers were using unsafe bedding for their babies, reported Today.
While educated mothers were less likely to use unsafe bedding, still over 50 percent of mothers in the survey who were using unsafe bedding materials said they had a college education, according to Today.
Shapiro-Mendoza explained to Today that many parents see babies in the media placed in blankets and pillows so parents may get the wrong impression.
“Relatives may give them quilts or fluffy blankets as presents for the new baby and they feel obligated to use them," said Marian Willinger, special assistant for SIDS at the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and one of the study researchers, according to NIH. "But babies should be placed for sleep on a firm, safety-approved mattress and fitted sheet, without any other bedding.”
Consumer Affairs explains that SIDS has fallen to 50 percent since 1992, but while the SIDS rate has decreased over the years, there are still many infant deaths that may be the result of "accidental suffocation, entrapment in bedding material or other causes."
Today reported that although there is no evidence that these types of bedding can lead to SIDS many researchers believe that the unsafe bedding can contribute, cause or increase SIDS.