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Do Grandparents Care the Best for Your Child? Research Says No

Update Date: Oct 22, 2012 12:02 PM EDT

With the hectic lifestyle that many parents live today, an increasing number of them are leaving their children at the care of the grandparents. However, while being under the care of grandparents seems like the best option for your child, a new study suggests that many grandparent caregivers are unaware of more recent safety and other recommendations - including those related to appropriate child sleep position, crib safety, car seat and walker use.

The 2011 American Community Survey reveals that an estimated 2.87 million grandparents are the primary caregivers to their grandchildren.

In the current study, "Grandparent Caregiver Knowledge of Anticipatory Guidance Topics," researchers attended regularly scheduled Grandparent/Kinship Care support groups, Medical Xpress reported.

For the study, the researchers quizzed forty-nine participants with a survey questionnaire consisting of 15 questions pertaining to their knowledge of common pediatric safety and anticipatory guidance topics for children of all ages.

According to the report, when asked, "What is the best position for a baby to sleep in?" 33 percent of respondents chose "on the stomach;" 23 percent, "on the side;" and 43.8 percent, "the back."

The AAP recommendation suggests that infants should sleep on their backs to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

When asked about the best position for car seating, about a quarter of the respondents said that a 22 pound, 9 month-old child should be facing forward, however, according to AAP recommends, children should remain in a rear-facing car seat until age 2.

Also, according to AAP recommendations, children's cribs should not have items like bumpers, stuffed animals and blankets. Still, 49 percent of grandparent caregivers thought these items were acceptable.

When asked about baby walkers, it was found that about 74 percent respondents apparently thought it was a good device to help babies learn to walk. However, AAP not only disapproves of the walker use, but also urges caregivers to dispose of them due to safety concerns.

"Pediatric health and safety recommendations are constantly evolving," said study author Kathryn C. Hines, MD, a University of Alabama at Birmingham physician who sees patients at Children's of Alabama. "Many recommendations are likely to have changed since these grandparent caregivers parented their own children."

"Discussion of health and safety recommendations is an essential part of routine well-child care, and pediatricians must recognize knowledge deficits that may exist in grandparent caregivers and be comfortable addressing these deficits," said primary study author Amanda Soong, MD, FAAP, also of UAB.

The research was presented on Oct. 21 at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.

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