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Some Parents Still Not Following Safe Sleep Methods for Infants

Update Date: May 05, 2014 01:42 PM EDT

In order to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), parents are recommended to place their infants on their backs when they are sleeping. Despite this reminder, new research suggests that many parents continue to jeopardize the livelihood of their children by not following these safe sleep practices.

"Although the precise cause of SIDS is still unknown, we do know that safe sleep practices, such as sleeping on the back, reduces the risk of infant death in the first year of life," study author Dr. Sunah Hwang, neonatologist at Boston Children's Hospital and South Shore Hospital and instructor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School said. "The Back-to-Sleep campaign reduced the rate of SIDS by 50 percent in the 1990s. Since 2001, this rate has remained stagnant."

For this study, Dr. Hwang and fellow colleagues examined data on nearly 400,000 infants collected from surveys that were administered to mothers in 36 states. The researchers found that only two-thirds of the sample had followed the recommended safe sleep practices. Alabama had the worst rate of infants sleeping on their backs at just 50 percent. On the other hand, 81 percent of infants from Wisconsin slept on their backs.

"Given that supine [on the back] sleep positioning significantly reduces an infant's risk for SIDS, it is worrisome that only two-thirds of full-term infants born in the U.S. are being placed back-to-sleep," Dr. Hwang said reported by Philly. "More concerning is that adherence to safe sleep positioning is even lower for preterm infants who are at even greater risk for SIDS compared to term infants."

Dr. Hwang added, according to USA Today, "The more preterm the babies were, the less likely they were to be placed on their back. That's particularly worrisome given that these are more vulnerable infants who are at higher risk for SIDS, sleep-related deaths and other complications."

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010, SIDS was responsible for over 2,000 deaths in infants between the ages of one-month and one-year-old. The study was presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada.

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