When the “Back to Sleep” campaign launched in 1994, the number of babies placed on their backs to sleep quickly jumped from 25 percent to about 70 percent and SIDS rates (“Sudden Infant Death Syndrome”) declined by more than half. But research released December 7, 2009, from Yale University shows that instead of continuing to grow, the trend towards "back to sleep" may have reached a plateau.
Using phone interview data from the National Infant Sleep Position Study, "We looked at the behavior of 15,000 caregivers over the last 15 years and found that, although there was an increase in caregivers following the guidelines, in the last five years, the number of people putting babies on their back to sleep has leveled off [at about 70 percent],” says lead author Eve Colson, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine.
Colson and her team identified three key factors linked to whether caregivers place infants on their backs to sleep:
- whether the caregiver received a physician’s recommendation to place the baby only on the back for sleep
- fear that the infant might choke
- concerns for the infant’s comfort
“If we can teach people that comfort and choking are not issues and if we can make sure that doctors advise their patients that the back is the only safe position for infant sleep, then we may be able to overcome this leveling-off of the practice that we have seen over the last five years,” she says. The sleep findings appeared in the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.