A recent study published today in the journal Pediatrics found that ethnic and racial disparities are still strong when it comes to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Scientists also found African-American children are also more likely to die unexpectedly than Caucasian children.
Overall SIDS Numbers are Still Concerning
In 2013, Alaska Natives and American Indians were holding the lead with 177.6 sudden infant deaths per 100,000 births. An improvement from the 237.5 per 100,000 registered in 1995, but still a concerningly high number of deaths, especially since doctors are sure the syndrome can be prevented in most cases.
Non-Hispanic blacks followed with 172.4 deaths out of 100,000 live births. Their numbers also dropped from 203 in 1995. In the case of non-Hispanic whites, SIDS levels dropped from 93 to 84.5, while Hispanics also registered an improvement, the number of incidents falling from 62.7 to 49.3.
The best progress was made by Pacific Islanders and Asians who managed to cut the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome by half, going from 59.3 per 100,000 cases in 1995 to 28.3 in 2013.
Awareness Campaigns Helped Reduced the Number of Incidents
The American Academy of Pediatrics regularly updates its Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment in the hopes that more parents will follow the guidelines. It seems their efforts were not in vain as the number of incidents dropped significantly.
What worries scientists most is the persistent racial and ethnical gap. Sharyn Parks, one of the lead authors of the study, believes the numbers are higher in some communities due to tobacco or alcohol exposure, non-conformant breastfeeding patterns, and socio-economic disparities. However, researchers did not take those factors into account during the study, so they must be treated as a theory.
The AAP strongly advises against bed sharing, cribs with hard mattresses being the perfect choice. Babies should also be put to sleep on their baks, and the crib emptied of pillows, toys, or other items that could lead to choking.
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