Reports describing factors associated with sleep-related infant death rely on caregiver report or postmortem findings. We sought to determine the frequency of environmental risk factors by using nocturnal sleep videos of infants.
Healthy, term newborns were recruited for a parent study examining the role of parenting in the development of nighttime infant sleep patterns. For 1 night at ages 1, 3, and 6 months, video recordings were conducted within family homes. Videos were coded for sudden infant death syndrome risk factors in post hoc secondary analyses after the parent study was completed.
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.