Babies unnecessarily put at risk by poor parental choices for their sleep environment

396692_6494Most parents of young babies have likely heard the line Back to Sleep, the official mantra warning them to have their infants sleep on their backs. But there are other advisories, such as one that tells parents to have only a mattress and fitted sheet in a young baby s crib to avoid having the baby suffocated by soft bedding pillows, quilts, and comforters, for example. How well do parents follow this advice? A recent study in the journal Pediatrics sought to determine the extent of parental compliance with these directives.

Dr. Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza from the CDC and colleagues from several institutions used data from telephone surveys conducted between 1993 and 2010 to

assess caregiver practices. In all, nearly 19,000 participants completed the questionnaires.

Overall, the researchers found a significant decrease in soft bedding use between the initiation and end of the study period. When they broke the results into 2 periods 1993-2000 and 2001-2010 they found that the reduction in this use was significantly greater in the first period compared with the second.

Several demographic factors were associated with the likelihood of allowing infants to sleep with non-recommended items. For example, mothers less than 20 years old, non-white ethnicity, and lack of college-level education were all associated with a greater use of bedding such as thick blankets, quilts and comforters.The researchers reported that about 50 percent of caregivers used some type of non-recommended bedding for their infants.

The authors noted The use of certain types of bedding in the infant sleep environment is a modifiable risk factor for SIDS [sudden infant death syndromeand unintentional sleep-related suffocation.

ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava commented Obviously some groups are either not getting or ignoring the advice about appropriate sleeping environments for infants. This study should be helpful in targeting these groups and emphasizing the importance of following the guidelines.