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Many Grandparents Lack Latest Child Safety Info: Study

Not all caregivers aware of guidelines on car seats, infant sleep, walkers

SUNDAY, Oct. 21, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- A new study finds that many grandparent caregivers don't know about newer safety guidelines for children, such as appropriate sleep position, crib safety and car seat use.

The number of grandparents in the United States who are the primary caregivers to their grandchildren has risen nearly 20 percent since 2000 and is now estimated at 2.8 million, according to the 2011 American Community Survey.

In this study, 49 grandparent caregivers completed a 15-question survey designed to assess their knowledge of child care safety guidelines.

When asked about the best sleep position for a baby, 33 percent of the participants said on the stomach, 23 percent said on the side and about 44 percent said on the back. When sleeping, infants should be placed on their backs to prevent sudden infant death syndrome, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Another question addressed correct car seat positioning, and 24.5 percent of the participants said that a 9-month-old, 22-pound child should be facing forward. The AAP recommends, however, that children remain in rear-facing car seats until age 2 years.

Among the other findings:

  • Forty-nine percent of respondents thought it was OK to have bumpers, stuffed animals and blankets in cribs, even though the AAP recommends against it.
  • Nearly 74 percent of respondents believed that a walker is a good device to help babies learn to walk, but the AAP advises against their use and urges caregivers to get rid of them because of serious safety concerns.

The study was scheduled for presentation Sunday at the American Academy of Pediatrics' national conference in New Orleans.

"Pediatric health and safety recommendations are constantly evolving," study author Dr. Kathryn Hines, a University of Alabama at Birmingham physician who sees patients at Children's of Alabama, said in an AAP news release. "Many recommendations are likely to have changed since these grandparent caregivers parented their own children."

Primary study author Dr. Amanda Soong, also of UAB, added: "Discussion of health and safety recommendations is an essential part of routine child care, and pediatricians must recognize knowledge deficits that may exist in grandparent caregivers and be comfortable addressing these deficits."

Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines the ABCs of raising safe and healthy children.

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, Oct. 21, 2012
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