X Prone sleep is a known risk factor for SIDS, and face-down sleep increases this risk further (1).
X Even after a thorough investigation, it can be hard to tell SIDS apart from other sleep-related infant deaths such as overlay or suffocation. These deaths are often unwitnessed and there are no tests to tell SIDS apart from suffocation. To complicate matters, people who investigat SIDS Deaths may report the cause of death in different ways and may not include enough information about the circumstances of the event from the death scene (3).
X Infants in the face down position on fiberfill crib mattresses, quilted surfaces, soft surfaces, pillow-like surfaces, vinyl pads, mattresses filled with tea tree bark and other natural fibers, and even surfaces that claim to be breathable, show increased risk of rebreathing of carbon dioxide which leads to hypoxia, a condition associated with SIDS (5-9). According to Dr. James Kemp and Dr. Brad Thach, some bedding materials may act to retard the dispersal of exhaled gasses (carbon dioxide), retaining the gasses near a face down infant’s mouth. With each subsequent breath, the infant takes in an air mixture which is progressively less adequate to sustain life. The more conducive an item is to rebreathing (retaining carbon dioxide), the more hazardous the item would be (8).
X It is important to keep fresh oxygen flowing to a sleeping baby and avoid anything in the crib that can cause the build-up of carbon dioxide and heat.