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U-Shaped Pillows and Sleep-Related Infant Deaths, United States, 2004–2015

Abstract

Objectives

To describe infant deaths where a u-shaped pillow was under or around an infant and to describe cases classified as Explained Suffocation.

Methods

We examined demographics and circumstances of 141 infant deaths during 2004–2015 in the US National Fatality Review Case Reporting System with u-shaped pillows in the sleep environment.

Results

Most infants were < 6 months old (92%), male (58%), non-Hispanic White (53%), and of the nine explained suffocation deaths, four occurred when the u-shaped pillow obstructed the infant’s airway; five occurred when the infant rolled off the pillow and their airway was obstructed by another object.

Conclusions for Practice

Although infrequent, infant deaths with u-shaped pillows have occurred. Health care providers may include discussion of the importance of caregivers following infant product packaging precautions and warning labels for commonly used consumer products, such as u-shaped pillows in their advice to caregivers.

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Acknowledgements

Carri Cottengim, Sharyn Parks Christine Olson, Emily Johnston and Carrie Shapiro-Mendoza have no financial disclosures. Alexa B. Erck Lambert was supported by a contract between DB Consulting Group and the Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Prime Contract Number: hhsn316201200076w, Task Order Number: 200-2017-f-94805). Heather Dykstra and Esther Shaw’s agency, the Michigan Public Health Institute, received funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the amount of $789,723.16 for the period August 18, 2013 to June 17, 2018 to support components of the SUID Case Registry described in the article (Contract Number: 200-2013-56409).

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Correspondence to Carri Cottengim.

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Cottengim, C., Parks, S.E., Erck Lambert, A.B. et al. U-Shaped Pillows and Sleep-Related Infant Deaths, United States, 2004–2015. Matern Child Health J 24, 222–228 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-019-02847-9

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Keywords

  • SIDS: sudden infant death syndrome
  • SUID: sudden unexpected infant death
  • NFR-CRS: National Fatality Review Case Reporting System
  • Suffocation