Home and Community Safety & Health

Parents need to educate sitters, other caregivers on safe sleep practices for infants: study

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Charlottesville, VA — Babysitters, relatives and other unlicensed child care providers are less likely to place infants in the proper sleeping position or environment, according to researchers from the University of Virginia and the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

The researchers analyzed 2004 to 2014 data from the National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention’s Child Death Review Case Reporting System. They found that out of 10,490 sleep-related infant deaths, 13 percent (1,375) occurred when someone other than a parent was providing care.

Other findings:

  • 62.2 percent of babysitters didn’t place the infants on their backs, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Babies were more likely to be placed in sleep environments with objects, such as blankets or toys, that can be hazardous. AAP recommends these items, as well as crib bumpers and soft bedding, not be used.
  • Babies were placed in improper sleeping locations, such as on a couch or adult bed, 50.9 percent of the time by babysitters, 70.6 percent of the time by relatives and 72.9 percent of the time by friends.

“It’s always best to discuss where and how your baby should sleep,” Rachel Moon, study co-author and division head of general pediatrics at the UVA Health System, said in an April 2 press release. “You can’t make assumptions that the person with whom your baby is staying will know what is safest.”

The study was published online April 2 in the Journal of Pediatrics.

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