Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: Sleeping Position and SIDS Risk

Category: Child Care


Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with a new recommendation regarding infant positioning. They found from several long term studies, primarily in Europe, that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome seemed to be slightly higher in babies placed on their stomach as opposed to babies placed to sleep on their side or back. This goes contrary to the typical habit of placing all babies on their stomach because of worries that they might vomit and inhale the vomit when lying on their backs.

The American Academy of Pediatrics committee, which studied this for several months before making their recommendation feels that the link is strong enough to make this recommendation. They feel that the danger of a baby dying from aspiration when lying on their back is less significant. In specific cases of known GE reflux, placing babies on their side or stomach is still advisable. Other reasons for placing babies in a prone or stomach down position include pre-mature infants and infants with upper air way abnormalities.

The proposed change from stomach to back is primarily made for healthy sleeping infants. Since babies move and change positions constantly through the night after they are three or four months old, this recommendation primarily applies for infants in the first three months of age. A complete discussion of this recommendation is available in the June 1992 Pediatrics Journal. A copy can be obtained by writing to:

The American Academy of Pediatrics
141 N. Westpoint Blvd.
P.O. Box 927
Elkgrove Village, IL. 60007- 0927

The committee which made this recommendation and the entire American Academy of Pediatrics will continue to closely study this issue in an ongoing manner. If you have any questions regarding this matter, discuss it with your pediatrician or family doctor or contact the American Academy of Pediatrics at the above address.