Babies who never sleep on their stomachs dont learn behaviors that may lessen their risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found. Even so, the researchers caution that infants should always be placed on their backs to sleep.
"The first few times babies who usually sleep on their backs or sides shift to the prone (lying face down) position, they have a 19-fold increased risk of sudden death," says senior author Bradley T. Thach, M.D., a Washington University pediatrician at St. Louis Childrens Hospital. "We wondered if these babies, finding themselves face down, fail to turn their heads to breathe easier. If so, is that because their reflexes havent developed far enough or because they just dont wake up?"
Thach and his colleagues studied 38 healthy infants aged 3 to 37 weeks. Half of the babies usually slept prone or had a history of turning prone during sleep. The other babies had never slept prone. The study is reported in the December issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Gwen Ericson | EurekAlert!
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