This morning, the American Academy of Pediatrics is releasing new recommendations for preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which kills about 2,500 babies a year.
The AAP recommends babies sleep on their backs not their sides at all times; bed-sharing is not recommended; and research indicates an association between pacifier use and a reduced risk of SIDS, which is why the APP is recommending the use of pacifiers at naptime and bedtime through the first year.
ABC medical contributor Dr. Tim Johnson said the recommendation about pacifier use is the most surprising.
"Pacifiers have gotten a bad name for concerns that it might interfere with breastfeeding and proper tooth development," Johnson said. "But the evidence does show pacifiers reduce the risk of SIDS for reason that aren't totally clear."
Johnson said the recommendations about back sleeping fine-tune AAP's original guidelines from its 1994 "Back to Sleep" campaign, which advised caregivers to put infants to sleep on their backs or sides. It is estimated back or side sleeping has increased from 13 percent to 70 percent during the past decade.
The campaign has been credited with a 50 percent reduction in the number of deaths from SIDS from about 5,000 infants each year to fewer than 2,500.
The new AAP guidelines say there is no evidence commercial devices that claim to prevent SIDS are actually effective.
"The most important thing is not to smoke during pregnancy or after it," Johnson said. "Also, keep soft objects out of the crib, avoid overheating the room. Keep your baby lightly clothed in a room at a comfortable temperature."