Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Accidental Suffocation
The “Safe Sleep Environment” is a way to describe the position a baby is put down to sleep in, the area around where the baby is sleeping, and the surface they are put to sleep on. All of these areas are important for keeping a baby safe during sleep.
Injury is preventable. Accidental Suffocation among infants can occur when certain hazards are present in the sleep environment creating the risk of suffocation and cause an infant to be unintentionally suffocated during sleep. Suffocation can be caused by things such as sharing a bed with another person (child or adult), being smothered by blankets or stuffed animals, or getting wedged in the cushions of a couch or between a mattress and the bed frame.
From 2005-2009, an average of 17 infants (less than 1 year of age) died per year in North Carolina due to Accidental Suffocation and an average of 106 infants died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In Mecklenburg County from 2005-2009, an average of 4 infants died per year due to Accidental Suffocation and an average of 3 deaths were due to SIDS. While the number of infant deaths due to Accidental Suffocation Mecklenburg County may seem small compared to NC, it is important to know that Accidental Suffocation is completely preventable. Suffocation deaths often have the same risk factors present as SIDS deaths so by focusing on the prevention of deaths due to Accidental Suffocation we can also reduce the risk of SIDS at the same time.
In some sudden infant death cases, the exact cause of death remains unclear even after a through case investigation has been completed and the risk factors are identified. These deaths are classified as Undetermined. However, the majority of infant deaths classified as Undetermined, occur in the sleep environment and have the same unsafe sleep practices/conditions present as those found among deaths due to SIDS and Accidental Suffocation.
Number of SIDS, Accidental Suffocation, and Undetermined Deaths Among Infants (< 1yr.)
Mecklenburg County Residents2003 through 2009