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Docs Not Giving Clear Advice on Infant Sleep Positions
Date:12/7/2009

Survey finds it might explain why number of caregivers putting babies on backs has leveled off

MONDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- New research finds that although far more caregivers now place babies on their backs to sleep -- a practice that reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)-- that encouraging trend has leveled off since 2001.

The study also shows that black mothers and caregivers are more likely than whites to place infants on their stomachs to sleep.

But among all races, the most common reasons for using the stomach position were concerns about infant choking and infant comfort, said Dr. Eve Colson, lead author of the study published in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

"It also still looks like the really important thing is that they get very specific advice that they should only put the baby on its back," added Colson, an associate professor of pediatrics at Yale University School of Medicine.

The onus to deliver that message, she said, lies largely with physicians and health-care providers.

According to background information in the study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, SIDS is the leading cause of death after birth in the United States.

"SIDS is extremely tragic, but the risk period is relatively short. Most occur between 0 and 6 months and the peak period is 2 to 4 months, although cases can occur during the first year," said Marian Willinger, special assistant for SIDS research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Since the NICHD launched its Back to Sleep campaign in 1994, the number of babies placed on their backs to sleep jumped from 25 percent to about 70 percent and the SIDs rate declined by more than 50 percent.

Still, black infants have more than double the incidence of SIDS as white infants and
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