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Putting babies ‘back’ to sleep safely

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Researchers have found that mothers who believe their babies are uncomfortable or more likely to choke when sleeping on their backs are more likely to place them in other positions, increasing the risk of SIDS. “Increasing advice for exclusively back sleep, especially through the media, and addressing mothers’ concerns about infant comfort and choking are critical to getting more infants on their back to sleep,” says Isabelle Von Kohorn. Credit: Courtesy, iStockphoto

YALE (US)—A quarter of all babies, especially those of African-American descent, are not placed on their backs to sleep, despite consistent recommendations that babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Isabelle Von Kohorn, clinical fellow in the Department of Pediatrics at Yale University, performed face-to-face interviews between 2006 and 2008 with 2,299 mothers, most of whom were African–American mothers of infants younger than eight months.

The mothers discussed what advice they had received and their personal beliefs about infant sleep position. About 63 percent of mothers believed that their infants were most comfortable in a position other than their backs and 56 percent believed their infants were more likely to choke on their backs. They were most likely to place them in other positions.

“Increasing advice for exclusively back sleep, especially through the media, and addressing mothers’ concerns about infant comfort and choking are critical to getting more infants on their back to sleep,” said Von Kohorn.

Mothers who receive consistent advice from physicians, nurses and the media to place their babies to sleep on their backs are likely to follow this recommendation.

Details of the research are published in the April issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

The study was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Yale University news: http://opa.yale.edu/

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