New Federal Data Show Racial Disparities in Adherence to Safe Sleep Guidelines for Babies

There have been dramatic improvements in reducing baby deaths during sleep since the 1990s, when recommendations were introduced to place babies on their back for sleep. However, since the late 1990s, declines have slowed. Today, there are still about 3,500 sleep-related deaths of babies in the United States annually. This is about 10 every day.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds significant racial disparities in safe-sleeping procedures for babies. For instance, 22 percent of all parents do not place babies on their back to sleep. But the rate for Whites is 16 percent compared to 38 percent for African Americans.

Slightly more than 40 percent of Black parents say they use soft bedding materials such as pillows, stuffed toys, and bumper pads for their babies, which is not recommended by federal guidelines as it may increase the risk of suffocation. For Whites the rate was 33 percent.

More than three quarters of Black parents say that they sometime share their bed with their babies, another practice than can increase the risk of suffocation. For Whites, 53 percent of parents say they sometimes share their bed with their babies.

A video about the problem can be seen below.


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