Study: ‘Most parents’ place infants in unsafe sleep environments

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A recent study found that most parents placed their babies in sleep environments with established risk factors for sleep-related infant deaths.

The study worked by researchers placing video cameras in various areas of the house to monitor the infants at home at ages 1, 3 and 6 months.

Despite parents knowing the researchers were watching and recording, the children were still placed in unsafe environments.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released its results from the study this week, showing:

Among 160 one-month-olds, initially 21% were placed to sleep on nonrecommended sleep surfaces and 14% were placed nonsupine; 91% had loose/nonapproved items on their sleep surface, including bedding, bumper pads, pillows, stuffed animals, and sleep positioners. Among 151 three-month-olds, 10% were initially placed on a nonrecommended sleep surface, 18% were placed nonsupine, and 87% had potentially hazardous items on their sleep surface. By 6 months, 12% of the 147 infants initially slept on a nonrecommended surface, 33% were placed to bed nonsupine, and 93% had loose/nonrecommended items on their surface. At 1, 3, and 6 months, 28%, 18%, and 12% changed sleep locations overnight, respectively, with an increased likelihood of bed-sharing and nonsupine position at the second location at each time point.

Most parents, even when aware of being recorded, placed their infants in sleep environments with established risk factors. If infants were moved overnight, the second sleep environment generally had more hazards.

Experts say placing babies in unsafe sleeping environments increases the risk of sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, and ill-defined deaths.

Although the exact reason why SIDS occurs is unknown, University of Missouri Health Care Pediatrician Dean Lasseter told KOMU that physicians are aware of what increases the risks of SIDS.

“I see a lot of parents wanting their baby to sleep in fluffy, very large blankets which is again, not desired at all. Puts them at greater risk. They don’t need any pillows. We don’t want them to have stuffed animals. We don’t want the bed to have anything besides the baby, maybe a blanket,” Lasseter said.

Experts recommend parents lay babies on their back to sleep and be aware of loose blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, pads and other items in the bed.

Click here to read the full study