Crib death rates in Israel remain steady

Babies should sleep in their parents’ room for at least six months but never in the same bed as the parents.

November 23, 2016 17:29
2 minute read.
A BABY lies in her crib in this illustrative photo. (

A BABY lies in her crib in this illustrative photo. (. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Although the rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has declined by 70% during the last quarter-century in much of the Western world due to observance of updated guidelines, in Israel it has remained steady, with 568 dying of crib death between 2005 and 2013 and an annual range of 40 to 80 tragedies per year.

This is the result of doctors and nurses in hospitals and in baby clinics (Tipat Halav) giving mistaken, misunderstood or insufficient information or of parents and other caregivers ignoring scientifically based recommendations.

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These were some of the findings provided on Wednesday’s Atid (Association for the Prevention of and Research Into Crib Death) conference, held at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, attended by hundreds of medical professionals.

The most important rules include always placing infants to sleep on their backs, day and night. Many parents are misled or confused by professional advice and believe that infants should be on their backs at night but can be put to sleep on their stomachs during the day, said Atid chairman Dr. Anat Shatz.

In addition, smoking and drinking alcohol by pregnant women and smoking after delivery by mothers and fathers significantly raise the dangers. So do rooms warmer than 22 degrees centigrade, overdressing babies, wrapping them tightly so they can’t move and putting pillows, unnecessary blankets and toys or other objects in the crib.

Among the too-little-known facts was that feeding infants baby formula instead of breast milk significantly raises the risk of SIDS. Breastfeeding reduces infection, leads to better central nervous system development, creates beneficial sleep patterns and different oral development and reduces the SIDS risk by 36%.

Other practices to be avoided are putting babies to sleep in baby seats (sal kal – and those meant specially for car trips) and even awake, they should not be seated in them unsupervised or for more than an hour or so. Crib bumpers to prevent knocks to the head are risky because infants can get entangled in them. Pacifiers reduce the risk of SIDS; newborns should be placed on their backs in the lower third of the mattress with the blanket tucked in at the sides and bottom and not just thrown on.

Babies should sleep in their parents’ room for at least six months but never in the same bed as the parents. Premature babies who have reached a good weight are still at greater risk of SIDS; if they sleep in a separate room during the first half year, they are 80 times at higher risk of SIDS.

The emphasis now, said the many expert speakers, is “safe sleep” and not just “back to sleep.” SIDS figures are not exact here, as almost no infants who die suddenly undergo autopsies, and few have scans, tissue samples removed or invasive instruments inserted.

A Health Page feature on the Atid conference will appear on Sunday, December 4

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