Objective. To assess whether the recommendations that infants sleep supine could have adverse health consequences.
Design. A prospective study of infants, delivered before, during, and after the Back to Sleep Campaign in the United Kingdom (UK), followed to 6 months of age. The children were part of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood (ALSPAC).
Subjects. Singletons born to mothers resident in the three former Bristol-based health districts of Avon in the period June 1991 to December 1992, and for whom questionnaires were completed on sleeping position at 4 to 6 weeks of age (n = 9777); for these infants 8524 questionnaires were also completed at 6 to 8 months of age.
Main Outcome Measures. Subjective measures of health, the presence of specific signs and symptoms, duration of sleep at night, and calling the family doctor to the home.
Results. Of 43 outcomes considered, after adjustment for 12 factors using logistic regression only 2 were associated with raised risk among infants put to sleep on their back (diaper rash and cradle cap). Infants put to sleep prone had increased risk of a number of health outcomes, including cough and possibly pyrexia.
Conclusions. There is no evidence that putting infants to sleep in the supine position results in increased morbidity, although changes in prevalence of rare disorders would not have been identified.