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Physician advice a key motivator in baby's sleep position
Date:12/11/2009

DALLAS Dec. 10, 2009 The advice of a pediatrician to place infants on their backs to sleep appears to be the single most important motivator in getting parents to follow these recommendations and a key reason that the rate of sudden death syndrome (SIDS) has plummeted since the "Back to Sleep" campaign was launched in 1994, says a UT Southwestern researcher.

Multiple studies have shown that placing infants on their backs to sleep limits the risk of SIDS, the leading cause of death among children in the U.S. under the age of 1.

In a study available online and in the December issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, researchers, including Dr. George Lister, chairman of pediatrics at UT Southwestern and an author of the study, identify three reasons a caregiver might or might not follow the recommendation: concerns for an infant's comfort; fear that the infant might choke while sleeping on his or her back; and whether a physician advised the caregiver to always place an infant on his or her back to sleep.

"We know that placing infants on their backs to sleep is by far the single most effective way to reduce the risk of SIDS, but the number of deaths has leveled off in recent years," Dr. Lister said. "We wanted to know why in order to develop practical advice that caregivers will follow.

"Our findings suggest that a physician's counsel makes a substantial difference when a caregiver is determining whether to place an infant to sleep on its tummy, side or back."

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD) first launched the "Back to Sleep" campaign in 1994. Since then, the number of babies who are placed on their backs to sleep has jumped from 25 percent to 70 percent, while the rate of SIDS has plummeted by more than 50 percent. Despite the overall decrease, however, the rate of SIDS among African-American infants continues to be more than twic
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Contact: Kristen Holland Shear
kristen.hollandshear@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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