The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends babies sleep in a crib with no loose bedding or soft objects, which can pose a suffocation risk. Although reported use of blankets and other bedding for infants continues to decline, about half of US infants are still placed to sleep with potentially hazardous bedding, according to a study in the January 2015 issue of Pediatrics.

The study, “Trends in Infant Bedding Use: National Infant Sleep Position Study, 1993-2010,” published online today, investigated bedding use from 1993 to 2010 from the National Infant Sleep Position Study.

Blankets, quilts, and pillows can obstruct an infant’s airway and pose a risk for suffocation. This type of bedding is a recognized risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Researchers found that from 1993 to 2010, bedding use declined, but remained a common practice. The rate of bedding use averaged nearly 86% in 1993-1995 and declined to 55% in 2008-2010. Prevalence was highest for infants of teen mothers (83.5%) and lowest for infants born at term (55.6%). Researchers also found that bedding use was highest among infants who were sleeping in adult beds, placed to sleep on their sides, or shared a sleep surface.

Study authors conclude that while the numbers have improved significantly, infants are still being put to bed in an unsafe sleeping environment; about half still sleep with blankets, quilts, pillows, and other hazardous items. It is important for all parents to know and understand the risk factors associated with this dangerous practice in order to help reduce the number of sleep-related infant deaths.