Reports of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the U.S.
have declined dramatically since measures in the 1994 National
Institute of Child and Health and Human Development-sponsored
"Back to Sleep" campaign convinced most parents to place their
babies on their backs for sleeping. Persistent concerns of
possible dangers (e.g., choking on vomit) have prevented some
parents from adopting recommendations to place their infant
on its back for sleeping, however; one in 10 infants is still
placed on its stomach, or in a prone position, to sleep. Are
these fears realistic, or merely myths?
on almost 4,000 infants that always were placed in the same
position for sleep (back, front or side) was analyzed in this
study from the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
At one, three and six months of age, researchers asked the
mother about the presence of symptoms like coughing, fever,
trouble breathing or sleeping, and vomiting.
Infants placed to sleep on their backs were not at an increased
risk for health problems. In fact, they were less likely to
have fevers, stuffy noses or ear infections than infants placed
to sleep on their stomachs or sides, and reportedly slept
better. No back-sleepers were noted to choke on their vomit.
Also, no symptoms were significantly more common in infants
sleeping on their backs or sides than in infants sleeping
Not only does placing your baby to sleep on his or her back
reduce the chances for SIDS, it also appears to reduce the
risk for other health problems found in infants. Research
is more reliable than hearsay advice; be sure to always place
your baby on his or her back at naptime.
Hunt CE, Lesko SM, et al. Infant sleep position
and associated health outcomes. Archives of Pediatrics
and Adolescent Medicine 2003:157(5), pp. 469-474.
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