Thursday, August 27, 2009

Do Ads Influence How Babies Sleep?

A new study in Pediatrics found that more than one-third of photographs in advertisements and articles in magazines geared toward women, expectant parents, and parents of young children show babies sleeping on their sides or stomachs, and nearly two-thirds of the pictures show infant sleep environments that increase risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Pictures that show babies sleeping on their side or stomach create confusion about infant sleep and may lead to unsafe practices.

A total of 391 unique pictures from 34 magazine issues were analyzed for sleep positions, including whether or not the baby was placed on its side or stomach rather than on its back, as well as dangers in infant sleeping environments, including soft bedding. Only 36 (36.4%) pictures showed infants sleeping in safe environments.

Of 122 pictures of infants sleeping, only 64% showed the babies sleeping on their backs. Compared with pictures accompanying news articles, photos in advertisements were more likely to show babies sleeping on their sides or stomachs (39% versus 27%).

To reduce the risk of SIDS, the AAP recommends that babies sleep separately from their parents and be placed in a crib on their backs, without blankets, pillows, or other soft bedding. Soft and loose bedding increases the risk of SIDS about five-fold overall and 21-fold when babies are also sleeping on their stomachs, according to the researchers.

Learn more about SIDS on

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