Infant sleep environments depicted in magazines targeted to women of childbearing age

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More than one third of photos in women's magazines depicted babies in unsafe sleep positions, according to a new study in Pediatrics. Additionally, the study found that two-thirds of sleep environments depicted in these magazines were also unsafe.

Led by SIDS researchers Rachel Moon, MD, a pediatrician, and Brandi Joyner at Children's National Medical Center, the study analyzed pictures of sleeping infants in 24 magazines with wide circulation among 20- to 40-year-old women.

The authors evaluated pictures for sleep positions, including whether or not the baby was placed on its side or stomach rather than on its back, as well as hazards in infant sleeping environments, including soft bedding. The study reviewed photos in both articles and advertisements.

"There are major discrepancies between what doctors recommend to prevent sudden infant death syndrome and what moms may see in mainstream media," said Dr. Moon. "The most important thing for moms to realize is that what they see in magazines may not be what's best for their baby in real life."

To reduce the risk of SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be placed on their backs when sleeping, on a separate sleep surface from their parents, without blankets, pillows, or other soft bedding. Dr. Moon is a member of the AAP's Task Force on SIDS, which issued revised guidelines for SIDS prevention in October of 2005.

The study, titled "Infant Sleep Environments Depicted in Magazines Targeted to Women of Childbearing Age," appears in the September issue of Pediatrics.

Related Links:

SIDS facts and more information

AAP guidelines

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