Study finds most parents put babies in risky sleep environments

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A new study shows most parents are placing babies in unsafe sleep environments.

ABC News reports that researchers at the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine studied video camera footage of more than 160 infants, which was recorded while they slept. The report was published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday.

The research was originally aimed at determining new mothers' preferred sleeping arrangements. But as one of the researchers, Dr. Ian Paul, reviewed the footage, he noticed that in many cases, infants were being put to bed in unsafe ways -- such as being placed on their sides or put into cribs full of potentially dangerous items.

"I was surprised and alarmed," said Dr. Paul, a professor of pediatrics and public health sciences at Pennsylvania State College. "I've been a pediatrician for 18 years. I am not naive to think parents listen to everything, but the fact that almost every baby had loose bedding in their sleep environment was surprising to me."

According to the study, even though these parents were aware that they were being recorded in the experiment, more than nine out of 10 of the infants studied were placed in sleep environments with non-recommended, potentially hazardous items that increase the risk of suffocation, including pillows, bumper pads, loose bedding, and stuffed animals.

The researchers also found that parents would put the babies on their sides or stomachs, or practice "co-sleeping" -- the act of sharing the bed with their infants. These practices, too, put babies at risk of suffocation or injury.

Sleep issues are the most common cause of death for babies between 1 month and 1 year old.

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