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Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Children's Health Channel
Reported December 8, 2009

Place Babies on Backs for Safety

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Placing infants on their backs to sleep reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the leading cause of death during the first year of life in the United States.

"Placing infants on their backs for sleep remains the single most effective means we know to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome," Marian Willinger, Ph.D., Special Assistant for SIDS research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), was quoted as saying.
Dr. Willinger noted that certain conditions might prompt a physician to consider recommending against back placement. However, such recommendations are arrived at only after careful deliberation and after taking into account all the potential risks and benefits for the infant involved.

The NICHD launched the Back to Sleep campaign in 1994, urging parents and caregivers to place infants to sleep on their backs. Since the campaign began, the prevalence of babies being placed for sleep on their backs has increased from roughly 25 percent to roughly 70 percent. Corresponding with the increase in back sleeping, the SIDS rate has decreased by more than 50 percent.

Researchers analyzed data obtained from the National Infant Sleep Position Study, an annual national phone survey, from 1993 to 2007. They found the proportion of babies placed to sleep on their backs steadily increased between 1993 and 2001 but did not change after 2001.
The survey asked nighttime caregivers -- mostly mothers -- "Do you have a position you usually place your baby in?"

The researchers found families who placed their infants on their backs were likely to report that their doctor recommended back placement as the sole sleep position.

The researchers concluded that reducing overall SIDS death rates depends on making sure families get back-sleeping advice from their physicians and addressing concerns about choking and comfort.

Dr. Willinger stated the Back to Sleep Campaign will continue its work with practitioner groups to urge all health care professionals to advise caregivers to place infants to sleep on their backs. The researchers reported that from 2003 to 2007, only 53.6 percent reported that their doctors had advised them to put their babies on their backs to sleep.

"We know that it is really important for health care providers to tell families that they should place their infants on the back to sleep," lead author Eve R. Colson, M.D., of the Yale University School of Medicine, is quoted as saying. "We can't equivocate, or the message gets lost. 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."

Steps parents and caregivers can take to reduce SIDS Risk are:
• Always place babies on their backs to sleep.
• Use the back sleep position every time, even during naps.
• Place your baby on a firm sleep surface, such as a safety-approved crib mattress covered with a fitted sheet. Never place an infant to sleep on a pillow, quilt, sheepskin or other soft surface.
• Keep soft objects, toys and loose bedding out of an infant's sleep area.
• Avoid letting your baby overheat during sleep. Dress your infant in light sleep clothing and keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult.

SOURCE: Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, December 2009

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Melissa Medalie at

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