CDC: Unsafe sleep practices with babies are common

Nearly two-thirds of mothers reported sharing a bed with their babies – one of several unsafe sleep practices highlighted in a recent federal report.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s January Vital Signs report looks at unsafe sleep practices with babies.

While baby deaths have reduced dramatically since the 1990s, when recommendations were introduced to place babies on their back for sleep, thousands of babies still die every year, according to the CDC.

Each year, there are about 3,500 sleep-related deaths among U.S. babies, according to the CDC.

In addition to placing babies on their backs, safe-sleep recommendations include keeping blankets, pillows, bumper pads and soft toys out of the sleep area, placing baby on a firm sleep surface and room sharing (but not bed sharing).

A survey of mothers, however, found that about 22 percent report not placing their baby on his or her back to sleep, and 39 percent use soft bedding, according to the CDC.

In addition, 61 percent of mothers said they share a bed with their baby. Bed-sharing is highest among younger mothers (77 percent of mothers 19 or younger; 69 percent of mothers 20 to 24 years old), according to the CDC.

The report also found that nearly half of caregivers did not receive correct advice on safe-sleep practices from health care providers. About 25 percent received incorrect advice, while 20 percent didn’t receive any advice at all, according to the CDC.

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.