And, Trachtenberg added, "babies should sleep on their backs alone in the cribs, with nothing else in them: no blankets, pillows, bumpers, stuffed animals."
She advised using blanket sleepers or swaddlers to keep babies warm.
"Even if you can't achieve a perfect sleep environment for your baby, getting rid of some of the risk factors goes a long way," Trachtenberg said.
Pacifiers might help, Hunt added. "The data would suggest that infants that are provided a pacifier on a consistent basis have a lower risk of SIDS."
The experts agreed that despite gains, continuing awareness efforts are needed to reduce SIDS rates even further.
"There are still a lot of families that are not aware of what constitutes safe sleeping practices," Hunt said. "These data would reinforce that's still an issue, and it's still a public health problem, that we need to do a better job of education."
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers a parent's guide to safe sleep.
SOURCES: Henry F. Krous, M.D., director, San Diego SIDS/Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood Research Project, Rady Children's Hospital, San Diego; Felicia L. Trachtenberg, Ph.D., statistician and senior research scientist, New England Research Institutes, Watertown, Mass.; Carl Hunt, M.D., research professor, pediatrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md.; April 2012 Pediatrics
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