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Are infants being placed in safe sleep environments? A nocturnal video assessment study uncovers some concerning findings :

August 18, 2016

It is common for us to ask parents about their infant’s sleep environment at those first few health maintenance visits.

It is common for us to ask parents about their infant’s sleep environment at those first few health maintenance visits. We are often reassured by what we hear—but just how accurate is the report we get from parents about safe sleep setups at home? Batra et al. (peds.2016-1533) designed a unique methodology to study home environmental risk factors for infant sleep by getting permission from parents participating in a study to assess nighttime sleep patterns to video record sleep in homes of those participating in this study. While the ascertainment of sleep patterns was the primary purpose of the study, a secondary analysis looked at risk-factors for sudden unexpected infant death.

Of the 160 infants videoed at one month of age, just over one-fifth were placed on an unsafe sleep surface and more than 90% had items in the crib or sleep surface that were unsafe and increased the SIDS risk. Things did not improve much when the babies were videoed again at 3 months of age and if anything the percentage of non-recommended items increased at 6 months of age relative to the prior videos, as well as the percentage of babies place into bed in a non-supine position.  

If babies moved in their sleep locations during the night, usually the second location was less safe than the first and included co-sleeping and non-supine positioning.  While we cannot live with our patients, this study may be worth sharing with the parents of our new babies to remind them that rather than talk the talk with us, they need to walk the safe sleep environment walk—perhaps more than they realize they are.  Take the covers off this study and learn more.
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