Empathy for the most vulnerable: Reducing sudden infant death syndrome and accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed

Michael Elwell, Deana McDonagh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

There has been a significant decrease in deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) since 1992. This may be the direct result of public awareness programs promoting supine sleep position (e.g. Back to Sleep Campaign). However, over 2000 infants in the United States still die of SIDS each year. While several risk factors for SIDS have been identified, the root cause(s) remains unknown. SIDS can happen to any infant regardless of race, gender, and socio-economic status. Studies have shown that infants who sleep on their backs in a safe crib are far less likely to die of SIDS and Accidental Suffocation and Strangulation in Bed (ASSB). Sleeping on their back lowers the arousal threshold, increasing the chance of survival if oxygen deprivation occurs. The crib offers a safer sleeping environment than co-sleeping, as the weight of a parent or the soft material of a pillow can easily suffocate an infant. This paper discusses and illustrates critical states in the designing process of a crib that reduces the risk of SIDS and ASSB. The process utilizes empathic design research strategies to determine the authentic human needs of the target user.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-116
Number of pages18
JournalDesign Principles and Practices
Volume5
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

Keywords

  • Accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed
  • Design process
  • Empathic design research strategies authentic human behavior
  • Sudden infant death syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

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