June 26 (UPI) -- A new study from Rutgers University researchers has found that premature infants are still at a greater risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.
The greater risk of SIDS in premature infants compared to full-term infants remains despite recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics that Neonatal Intensive Care Units, or NICUs, in hospitals educate parents on safe infant sleep methods prior to discharge, according to researchers in a study published this month.
Roughly 3,500 infants die every year in the United States of SIDS, which is a significant decrease from 25 years ago when the American Academy of Pediatrics released guidelines saying all babies should be placed on their back to sleep.
In 2011 and again in 2016, new recommendations were released to address SIDS deaths from suffocation, entrapment and asphyxia, which were on the increase.
The study, which was published in the June edition of Pediatrics, found that infants born between 24 and 27 weeks gestation had a more than three times higher risk of dying of SIDS before their first birthday compared to full term babies.
The risk remained higher even after other factors such as smoking and inadequate prenatal care were taken out of the equation.
The study consisted of data from U.S. infant birth and death certificates between 2012 and 2013, revealing there were 2.68 deaths per every 1,000 births between 24 and 27 weeks, compared to 0.51 deaths per every 1,000 births between 39 and 42 weeks gestation.
"While we can't undo a preterm birth, we can help compensate for the accompanying elevated risk of sudden infant death syndrome and other sleep-related infant deaths by helping families adopt the beneficial practices that include putting an infant on his back to sleep and keeping the sleep environment clutter free," Barbara Ostfeld, professor of pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and program director of the SIDS Center of New Jersey, said in a press release.