52 of 56 sudden unexpected infant deaths in Minnesota due to unsafe sleep environment

A Minnesota Department of Health analysis of sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs) in 2014 found that of the 56 babies who died, 52 were in an unsafe sleep environment, the department confirmed Thursday.

Gov. Mark Dayton proclaimed the week of November 1-7 as “Infant Safe Sleep Week," to promote the message that everyone can reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths by following safe sleep practices,

According to the analysis, about half were sharing a sleep surface, such as a bed or sofa or recliner with another person. The other half was in an unsafe sleep position like being placed on their side or tummy, loose objects around them such as pillows or blankets, or was not sleeping on a firm surface.

“We can save dozens of infants a year by supporting communities, retailers, parents, grandparents, and caregivers in their efforts to have infants sleep alone on their backs in safety-approved cribs free of pillows and blankets,” Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said.

The MDH is “calling for no co-sleeping with infants and for infants to sleep without blankets and pillows.”

How to reduce risks

“To decrease risk of suffocation, dress babies for the temperature and do not cover them with a blanket,” the MDH said.  “It is also important for the infant to sleep separately from other sleeping children and adults since research has found that this is hazardous.”

Beds and other places such as a couch or recliner can be dangerous for infants as well. Cribs made and sold after June 28, 2011 must meet federal requirements for crib safety.

For more information, visit the MDH safe sleep page