Objective. This report examines the response of families to the American Academy of Pediatrics June 1992 recommendation that healthy term infants be put to sleep on their back or side to decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Parents at two clinics and private practices were interviewed to ascertain sleep position practices.
Methods. Parents of infants from 1 to 6 months of age who were in the waiting room for a well-child visit were eligible for study. A total of 760 interviews were conducted using a closed-ended questionnaire. Parents were asked about sleep position, positional changes during sleep, and factors that influenced their decision to position their infant prone, side, or supine. Interviews were conducted from September 1993 through April 1994. This interval was divided into two equal, 4-month time intervals. Sleep practices were compared during the first and second time periods. Differences between practice and clinic groups were measured. Groups were compared using the chi-square test, with results considered significant at P < .05.
Results. The number of infants placed side or supine for sleep increased significantly since the inception of the study, from 38.1% to 59.1%. Despite this increase, parents reported that the impetus for changing position came from family or the media, rather than from health professionals. Initially, the proportion of infants in private practices placed side or supine was greater than that of clinic patients. That difference disappeared by the end of the study. Prone positioning continued to be more prevalent in the 3- to 6-month-old infants than in the 1- to 3-month-old group. The majority of infants at all ages awoke in the same position that they were put to sleep.
Conclusions. Side and supine positioning for sleep increased in all socioeconomic groups. A small number of infants placed side or supine for sleep are found prone on awakening. Health professionals need to increase their role in providing sleep position guidance. As the proportion of the population positioning their infants side or supine for sleep increases, it should be possible to examine the effect on the sudden infant death syndrome rate.
- Received July 29, 1994.
- Accepted October 25, 1994.
- Copyright © 1995 by the American Academy of Pediatrics