Nav: Home

Accidental infant deaths in bed tripled from 1999 to 2016 in the US

July 24, 2019

While the number of babies who die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has been on the decline, a study by researchers at Florida Atlantic University's Schmidt College of Medicine and collaborators shows that infant deaths from accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed have more than tripled between 1999 and 2016 in the United States with increases in racial inequalities.

Findings from the study, published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal, reveal similar risk factor profiles for non-Hispanic black infants and non-Hispanic white infants, though in every instance, non-Hispanic black rates were higher than those for non-Hispanic whites. Data from the study generate new theories about the occurrence of infant deaths in bed and racial inequalities by identifying factors that may be associated with increased as well as decreased risks.

For the study, researchers examined race, ethnicity, and sex-specific infant mortality rates by state. Findings reveal that infant mortality rates increased from 10.4 per 100,000 live births in 1999 to 45.8 per 100,000 live births in 2016 among non-Hispanic black female infants; from 15.4 to 53.8 for non-Hispanic black male infants; from 5.9 to 15.8 for non-Hispanic white female infants, and from 6.5 to 25.9 for non-Hispanic white male infants (1999 to 2016). All increases over time were statistically significant.

Between 2007 and 2016, 83 percent of all U.S. deaths in bed among non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white infants occurred to mothers who lived in the Midwest and the South at the time of delivery.

The highest mortality rate occurred among non-Hispanic blacks in Michigan (126.4 per 100,000 live births) compared to 11.8 per 100,000 live births for non-Hispanic blacks in California. The highest corresponding rate for non-Hispanic whites occurred in Mississippi (45 per 100,000 live births) and the lowest rate occurred in California (6.5 per 100,000 live births).

Notably, two adjacent, low-income southern states had significantly different outcomes. Alabama had 41 deaths per 185,549 live births for non-Hispanic black infants and 46 deaths per 362,404 live births for non-Hispanic white infants. Mississippi, however, had 115 deaths per 176,825 live births for non-Hispanic black infants and 93 deaths per 206,819 live births for non-Hispanic white infants.

"Despite increased public health efforts for education about safe sleep practices, we have seen significant surges in infant deaths from accidental strangulation and suffocation," said Joanna Drowos, D.O., M.P.H., M.B.A, lead author, associate dean for faculty affairs, and associate chair, Department of Integrated Medical Science, FAU's Schmidt College of Medicine. "By gaining a deeper understanding of the epidemiology, including both risk and protective factors, public health professionals can tailor messages and programs to reach a diverse group of mothers to help reduce deaths related to this preventable tragedy."

The study also shows that mortality rates increased as live birth order increased, especially among young mothers. Non-Hispanic black infants who were the fourth live births for mothers 15 to 24 years old had the highest rate of all of the sub-groups analysed (116.7 per 100,000 live births), followed by non-Hispanic black infants from the same maternal age group who were the fifth or sixth live-born infant. Among non-Hispanic white mothers 15 to 24 years old, the death rate for infants who were the fifth or sixth live birth was 87.1 per 100,000 live births.

In Michigan, non-Hispanic black infants who were the fourth to sixth live births for mothers 15 to 29 years old had an infant mortality rate of 259 per 100,000 live births and 78.9 per 100,000 live births for non-Hispanic white infants (2007-2016 inclusive). For non-Hispanic black infants who were the fifth or sixth live births occurring to such mothers, the rate was 301 per 100,000 live births.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016, accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed accounted for 25 percent (900) of the approximately 3,600 sudden unexpected infant deaths in the U.S.

"We must conduct the rigorous studies to curb these alarming increases in overall deaths and racial inequalities," said Charles H. Hennekens, M.D., Dr.P.H., co-author, first Sir Richard Doll Professor and senior academic advisor in FAU's Schmidt College of Medicine. "Future areas of research might include examining family and cultural differences around sleep, local pediatrician practices, available social services, and policies to combat these alarming increases."
For the study, researchers used the National Center for Health Statistics Multiple Cause of Death Records from 1999 to 2016. Infant births, infant deaths and infant mortality rates from 1999 to 2016 were obtained from Linked Birth/Infant Death Records as presented on the CDC's Wide-ranging ONline Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER).

Study co-authors are Maria C. Mejia de Grubb, M.D., M.P.H.; Jason L. Salemi, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Robert S. Levine, M.D.; and Roger J. Zoorob, M.D., M.P.H., all with Baylor College of Medicine; and Aaron Fils, a pre-medical student at the University of Miami.

About the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine:

FAU's Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine is one of approximately 152 accredited medical schools in the U.S. The college was launched in 2010, when the Florida Board of Governors made a landmark decision authorizing FAU to award the M.D. degree. After receiving approval from the Florida legislature and the governor, it became the 134th allopathic medical school in North America. With more than 70 full and part-time faculty and more than 1,300 affiliate faculty, the college matriculates 64 medical students each year and has been nationally recognized for its innovative curriculum. To further FAU's commitment to increase much needed medical residency positions in Palm Beach County and to ensure that the region will continue to have an adequate and well-trained physician workforce, the FAU Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine Consortium for Graduate Medical Education (GME) was formed in fall 2011 with five leading hospitals in Palm Beach County. In June 2014, FAU's College of Medicine welcomed its inaugural class of 36 residents in its first University-sponsored residency in internal medicine and graduated its first class of internal medicine residents in 2017.

About Florida Atlantic University:

Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU's world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of critical areas that form the basis of its strategic plan: Healthy aging, biotech, coastal and marine issues, neuroscience, regenerative medicine, informatics, lifespan and the environment. These areas provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU's existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit

Florida Atlantic University

Related Infants Articles:

Probiotic may help treat colic in infants
Probiotics -- or 'good bacteria' -- have been used to treat infant colic with varying success.
Deaf infants' gaze behavior more advanced than that of hearing infants
Deaf infants who have been exposed to American Sign Language are better at following an adult's gaze than their hearing peers, supporting the idea that social-cognitive development is sensitive to different kinds of life experiences.
Initiating breastfeeding in vulnerable infants
The benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child are well-recognized, including for late preterm infants (LPI).
Young infants with fever may be more likely to develop infections
Infants with a high fever may be at increased risk for infections, according to research from Penn State College of Medicine.
Early term infants less likely to breastfeed
A new, prospective study provides evidence that 'early term' infants (those born at 37-38 weeks) are less likely than full-term infants to be breastfeed within the first hour and at one month after birth.
Infants are more likely to learn when with a peer
Researchers at the University of Connecticut and University of Washington looked at the mechanisms involved in language learning among nine-month-olds, the youngest population known to be studied in relation to on-screen learning.
Allergic reactions to foods are milder in infants
Majority of infants with food-induced anaphylaxis present with hives and vomiting, suggesting there is less concern for life-threatening response to early food introduction.
Non-dairy drinks can be dangerous for infants
A brief report published in Acta Paediatrica points to the dangers of replacing breast milk or infant formula with a non-dairy drink before one year of age.
Infants can't talk, but they know how to reason
A new study reveals that preverbal infants are able to make rational deductions, showing surprise when an outcome does not occur as expected.
Infants are able to learn abstract rules visually
Three-month-old babies cannot sit up or roll over, yet they are already capable of learning patterns from simply looking at the world around them, according to a recent Northwestern University study published in PLOS One.
More Infants News and Infants Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.