Providing cribs may help protect at-risk babies from SIDS

03/02/04

ST. LOUIS -- Saint Louis University has pinpointed a promising strategy to decrease the risk of sudden infant death, according to research published in the March issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Give safe cribs to families who cannot afford to purchase them.

"This study shows that in St. Louis, Mo., most impoverished African-American infants who share a bed do not have access to a safe crib," 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 Disorder Clinic at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital.

"When we provided cribs, families used them enthusiastically. We believe we can begin to address the problems associated with high-risk infants sharing beds by teaching mothers about the benefits of putting babies to sleep on their backs in a safe crib and by providing one."

SIDS is associated with poverty and putting babies to sleep on unsafe sleeping surfaces, such as in adult beds, or not placing them on their backs at bedtime. African-American babies are at a higher risk of SIDS than infants of other races.

Almost half of the babies in the study -- 41 percent -- shared an adult bed with their mother most nights. More than 30 percent of those babies also slept with at least one other family member.

However, once families received cribs, 78 percent used them all or most nights.

Kemp called for studies in other cities to test the findings, which favor providing safe cribs to impoverished families to reduce the incidence of SIDS.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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