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Report shows jump last year in Missouri infants who died from sleep-related suffocation.

A baby asleep in a crib
A baby asleep in a crib

The Missouri Department of Social Services said those deaths were preventable. Here's how you can keep your baby safe.

The Missouri Child Fatality Review Program Annual Report (CFRP) for 2022 shows an increase in child fatalities in Missouri due to sleep-related infant suffocation. The report found that, of all infants that died of non-medical causes last year, 74% were related to the infant’s sleep environment. Seventy-nine babies died from sleep-related suffocation in 2022 – a 21% increase from the year before.

Accidental suffocation and/or strangulation in bed is the leading cause of infant injury deaths, according to the Missouri Department of Social Services.

The Missouri Department of Social Services says those deaths were preventable.

So, how can parents make sure their infants are safe while they sleep?

Becky Spain with Mercy’s Safe Kids Springfield said parents can keep their babies safe by remembering these letters: "A, b, c. "A for alone, b for on their back and c for in a crib."

Babies should be put in a crib on their back with nothing but a fitted sheet, Spain said. For warmth, dress them in a sleep sack or a wearable blanket. A child can become entangled in a loose blanket, she said, and that can lead to strangulation.

She said they recommend using a pacifier, which has been shown to reduce the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. But if you choose to do that, don’t use a pacifier clip while a baby is sleeping.

And she said you should never share a bed with your infant.

"A lot of our mattresses have pillow tops," said Spain. "That can actually create an environment where the child can't — you know, if they turn over on their stomachs, they can't breathe."

She said parents might also accidentally roll over onto their baby without realizing it. And pillows, covers and comforters all create a dangerous environment for infants.

It’s a good idea to keep your baby in your room for their first year, according to Spain, but they should be in a crib or bassinet.

There’s no way safe way to share a bed with an infant, she said.


Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.