On Point submissions are individual member viewpoints and not North Carolina Medical Society policy.

David Tayloe, Jr., MD, FAAP

As the pediatrician member of our Wayne County Child Fatality Review Team, I have reviewed every death to a person under age 18 years since the program began over 20 years ago.  I am not sure I remember a death in which the baby was on her/his back, in her/his own bassinet, in the parents’ bedroom, and in a home free of tobacco smoke. When the American Academy of Pediatrics launched the “Back to Sleep” campaign in 1992, North Carolina was experiencing 120 cases of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) per year, largely involving babies found dead in their cribs/bassinets, on their stomachs.  Within just a year or two, that number plummeted to 40, where it has remained.  Today, nearly every one of these babies is found dead in bed with one or more other people.  In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics published policy changing the SIDS acronym to SUIDS (Sudden Unexplained/Unexpected Infant Death) to reflect both the success of the Back to Sleep campaign, and to highlight unsafe sleep practices.  This policy statement and technical report can be found by going to the American Academy of Pediatrics website for parents, www.healthychildren.org, and searching “safe sleep.”  Current recommendations of the AAP are that babies should sleep in their own bassinets/cribs, on their backs, in the bedrooms of the parents for at least 6 months, and no caretakers should smoke.  Pediatricians emphasize this policy during most patient/family encounters from birth to six months of age, the age-range during which most cases of SUIDS occur.