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Health Officials Issue Support Against Infant Sleep Positioners

Case series characterizes deaths of 13 infants; most of the infants placed on their side to sleep

MONDAY, Nov. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Infant sleep positioners are associated with increased rates of unintentional infant suffocation, offering support to the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendations against the use of such items, according to research published in the Nov. 23 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

Brenda Lawrence, M.D., of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health in Silver Spring, Md., and colleagues characterized infant deaths associated with ISPs in a series of 13 cases. Deaths were reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission between January 1997 and March 2011.

Among the 13 cases, the authors reported that the infants (eight male) ranged in age from 21 days to 4 months. Four of the infants had been born prematurely. One of the infants was a twin who had been diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia and gastroesophageal reflux. Four of the infants had recently been diagnosed with a cold or respiratory syncytial virus infection. Nine of the infants were placed on their sides to sleep, and one was placed prone. The families reported using an ISP to prevent sudden infant death syndrome, prevent reflux, elevate the infant's head, prevent rolling over, or to prevent plagiocephaly. Instructions for ISP use were available for review in five cases, three of which indicated side positioning as an acceptable use of the product.

"When providing guidance for parents of newborns, health care providers need to emphasize the importance of placing infants to sleep on their backs in a safe sleep environment," the authors write. "This includes reminders about the AAP's recommendations against side sleep position, ISPs and pillows, comforters, and other soft bedding."

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