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News for every parent: Ways to protect your infant from sudden death

03.02.2003


New research examines why African-American infants are at greater risk



Why is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome more common among African-American infants than in babies of other races?

Research in this month’s issue of Pediatrics suggests the answer might lie in the high prevalence of African-American infants who have died suddenly after being put to sleep in adult beds or on surfaces other than cribs, such as sofas. It urges public health officials to make African Americans aware that the practice is as dangerous as putting babies to sleep on their stomachs instead of their backs or sides.


"In 1994 we launched a campaign to fight SIDS that encouraged parents to put their infants to sleep on their backs or sides instead of on their stomachs," says James Kemp, M.D., one of the researchers and an associate professor of pediatrics at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and director of the Sleep Lab at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

"But sleep position is only part of the answer. More than twice as many African-American babies died suddenly while sharing a bed with an adult or when sleeping on a makeshift bed such as a sofa or pile of pillows. We must talk about the surfaces babies are allowed to sleep on to address the racial disparity in death rates. Cribs and other baby beds are the only safe places for a sleeping baby."

The findings come on the heels of a January survey by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development that found the percentage of babies under 8 months who share a bed with parents had more than doubled in the seven years period from 1999-2000 to 1993-1994.

Nancy Solomon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.slu.edu/

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