Magazines Often Depict Infants in Unsafe Sleep Positions

In women's, parenting magazines, most infant photos show unsafe sleep environments

TUESDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Magazines widely read by women of childbearing age frequently depict infants sleeping in unsafe positions or environments that do not meet American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines and may place them at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), according to a study published online Aug. 17 in Pediatrics.

Brandi L. Joyner, of the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and colleagues examined 20 high-readership magazines targeting women in the 20 to 40 year age group and eight magazines geared specifically for parents of young children and expectant parents. The photographs of sleeping babies and their environments were studied for adherence to AAP guidelines for infant sleep position and environment to minimize SIDS risk.

The researchers identified a total of 391 pictures from 34 separate magazine issues depicting sleeping infants and their sleep environments. Of pictures of infants not being held by adults, only 64 percent portrayed the infant in the AAP recommended supine position. Only 36.4 percent of the infant sleep environments showed a safe environment without items such as soft blankets, comforters and pillows that may increase SIDS risk.

"More than one-third of pictures of sleeping infants in magazines geared toward childbearing women demonstrated infants in an inappropriate sleep position, and two-thirds of pictures of infant sleep environments were not consistent with AAP recommendations. Messages in the media that are inconsistent with health care messages create confusion and misinformation about infant sleep safety and may lead inadvertently to unsafe practices," the authors conclude.

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Jeff Muise

Jeff Muise

Published on August 18, 2009

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