The most definitive study of its kind has shown that putting a baby to sleep on the stomach more than doubles the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The study was published in the October 2002 issue of Pediatrics.
Researchers examined the records of 260 infants from the age of birth to one year who had died of SIDS in Chicago (IL, USA) between November 1993 and April 1996. Information on each infant was compared with information about a control infant from the same racial or ethnic group and with a similar birth weight. In the cases of SIDS, all had been reviewed by the medical examiner and autopsies had been conducted to rule out other causes of death. The study found that African American infants, who accounted for 75% of those with SIDS, have about twice the risk of SIDS as other infants, due to the fact that 58% are put to sleep on their stomach, compared to only 12% for other groups.
In prior studies, the SIDS cases had sometimes been evaluated under a number of different standards. In the current study, researchers used standard criteria for evaluating all potential SIDS deaths. In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that infants not be placed to sleep on their stomachs, based on studies of infants in New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
"This is the largest, most comprehensive support for the American Academy of Pediatrics' 1992 and 1996 recommendations that infants be placed to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS,” said Duane Alexander, M.D., director of the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), one of the study's supporters. "Other studies have linked sleeping on the stomach with sudden infant death syndrome, but the Chicago Infant Mortality Study makes the strongest case to date.”Related Links:National Institute of Child Health and Human Development