Objective. The American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) recommendation for side or supine sleep position in healthy babies has generated much controversy. We surveyed primary care physicians to determine the effect of the AAP statement on physician attitude toward infant sleep position and advice to parents.
Methods. We sent a 23-question survey to 194 physicians in Western New York. The survey addressed their attitude toward the AAP recommendations and its impact on their advice to parents.
Results. Of the 149 physicians treating newborns, 121 (82%) completed the questionnaire; 98% were aware of the AAP statement. The most common sources of information were the AAP (86%) and professional literature (77%). Of the respondents, 79% agreed with the AAP statement. Reasons for reservation were lack of data (64%), potential adverse consequences of supine position (52%), and their own experience (47%). Gender, years in practice, and type of reimbursement did not influence attitude toward the AAP recommendation. The AAP statement increased the frequency with which physicians routinely discussed sleep position from 34 to 70% (P < .02). Physicians recommending the prone position decreased from 57 to 7% (P < .001), while those recommending supine sleep position increased from 10 to 42% (P < .001).
Conclusions. Most physicians agreed with the AAP statement and more frequently discussed sleep position following the AAP recommendations. However, they did not routinely recommend supine sleep position. The majority (69%) recommended the side position even though it is unstable. Although the AAP statement has increased discussion of infant sleep position by primary care physicians in WNY, only a minority recommend that infants sleep supine.