Despite an on-going educational campaign by pediatricians to alert parents to the dangers of soft bedding in cribs—meaning pillows, blankets, and crib bumpers—a recent study has found that the message hasn’t quite gotten through to some parents. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that parents avoid placing their babies on soft sleep surfaces, as a way of reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
A recent AAP study found that among a group of 83 African-American mothers with infants under six months of age in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. area, there were serious misperceptions about safe bedding for their babies. Many believed that their babies would be cold without blankets, or would be injured by crib railings if there weren’t bumpers. Some also believed that bedding was safe if a blanket or pillow was placed between the mattress and the crib sheet.
“Decisions of Black Parents About Infant Bedding and Sleep Surfaces: A Qualitative Study”, was published this month in Pediatrics. According to the study, “Infants born to black mothers succumb to SIDS at a rate more than twice that of white, non-Hispanic Infants. Black infants are also disproportionately affected by accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed and undetermined deaths, with rates two to three times those seen for nonblack infants.”
“In general, health care professionals make assumptions about what people know and don’t know,” said Rachel Y. Moon, M.D., a co-author of the study, chair of the AAP task force on SIDS and co-author of “14 Ways to Protect Your Baby from SIDS”. “A lot of parents who use soft bedding think they make their baby safer.”
Dr. Moon said that the results of the study, which interviewed mothers from both lower and higher socioeconomic groups, showed that “there needs to be better communication from health care providers. They can be a little more pro-active in talking with parents. We have to emphasize the fact that we have new information that we didn’t have 20 or 30 years ago. Now we know better.”