The COVID-19 pandemic brought on many deaths, however, a new study showed a certain demographic was impacted the most.
NBC News reported the rate of SIDS among Black infants increased by 15% during the early days of the pandemic. SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, describes when an infant’s cause of death can’t be definitively explained. In just one year, the rate jumped from over 33 deaths per 100,000 babies born in 2019 to 38.2 in 2020.
According to the CDC journal, Pediatrics, data is not normally broken down by race and ethnicity, however, SID numbers are, explaining the discovery of the increase, something researchers said was surprising as it’s not affecting any other racial or ethnic groups. “We would typically – ideally – look at five years of data in order to see any sort of trend emerging. So, these are very preliminary findings,” study author, Sharyn Parks Brown, said. “But this is something that we’re going to have to continue monitoring,” she further stated.
They have yet to identify a reason for the increase, but they suspect it could have something to do with new guidelines from the National Association of Medical Examiners on how SIDS babies are identified on death certificates. “If the new guidance was followed, this could have led to increased reporting of SIDS,” Parks Brown said. According to the new guidance, finding babies on or close to soft bedding was not enough to qualify deaths as suffocation by accident without proper evidence the children’s airways were blocked.
Under those circumstances, those cases should be classified as SIDS.
So how can these numbers change? Experts say to simply identify safer sleeping partners for babies. Dr. Rebecca Carlin told CNN more than 95% of SID deaths occur due to at least one unsafe sleep risk factor, including the infant sleeping on their stomach, sleeping in a parent’s bed instead of a crib, or tobacco use by the parents.The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends very young infants to sleep on their backs until they turn one. They should also sleep in their beds, alone, on firm, flat surfaces with fitted sheets only.