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Not All Parents Put Babies to Sleep on Back

Study Shows Advice on SIDS Prevention Isn't Being Heeded
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Choosing Sleep Positions continued...

Ten percent of caregivers said they thought their infant might choke while sleeping on his or her back. However, those who did not report this concern were much more likely to put their babies in the back position.

"For the vast majority of infants, concerns about choking while back sleeping are unfounded," Marian Willinger, PhD, special assistant for SIDS research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), emphasizes in a news release. "Placing infants on their backs for sleep remains the single most effective means we know to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome."

Willinger notes that in certain health conditions, a doctor may recommended against back sleeping, but only after carefully weighing the risks and benefits to the infant.

Babies Who Sleep on Their Backs

The study revealed that babies were more likely to be put to sleep on their backs if:

  • They were the first-born child
  • They were not premature
  • Their mothers did not live in the Southern U.S.
  • Their mothers had a higher education level
  • Their mothers were not African-American

The researchers urge all health care providers to make sure caregivers are told that it's safest to place infants to sleep exclusively on their backs, and that concerns about choking and discomfort are discussed. Doing so, they say, will help reduce the overall SIDS death rate.

"We can't equivocate, or the message gets lost," says Colson. "And we need to serve as role models, placing infants to sleep on their backs, beginning the minute infants are born in our hospital nurseries and pediatric units."

The findings appear in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

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