Teen mothers may not be following recommendations meant to reduce the risk of SIDS in their infants, a small study finds.
The study included 43 teen mothers with infants aged 2 months to 21 months. The mothers were recruited from high school daycare centers in Colorado.
Most of the mothers knew about SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and preventive measures, such as not sleeping with their infants and not placing blankets and pillows in the baby’s sleeping area. Despite knowing about the safety recommendations, many of the mothers ignored them, the researchers said.
The most common reasons for doing so included mothers believing that babies slept better and were safest in bed with them, and concern that babies would be cold and less comfortable without blankets, the findings showed.
All of the mothers said they thought their instincts were more reliable than other opinions. That was true even when their instincts directly contradicted expert advice and safe sleep recommendations, the study found.
The study was published April 21 in The Journal of Pediatrics.
First-time mothers often feel timid and uncertain, according to study author Dr. Michelle Caraballo and colleagues from the University of Colorado and Children’s Hospital Colorado. But teen mothers in this study appeared to have great confidence in their ability to decide what was best in terms of sleep practices for their infants, the researchers said.
“We learned that almost all teenage mothers were already aware of the [sleep] recommendations, yet they were making deliberate decisions to practice unsafe behaviors,” Caraballo said in a journal news release.
The study authors concluded that new methods are needed to improve sleep safety for infants of teen mothers.
The researchers suggested making sure health care providers give accurate, consistent information. In addition, Caraballo’s team said that there is a need for innovative public education campaigns targeting teen mothers.
Experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics and elsewhere recommend that those caring for infants should:
- Always place the baby on his or her back to sleep, including naps, and always on a flat, firm surface.
- Put babies to sleep in their own crib or bed, whether it is in the parents’ room or a separate room.
- Use a blanket sleeper or a second layer of clothing instead of a blanket.
- Keep the baby’s crib free of toys, blankets and bumpers.
- Never smoke in a baby’s room or home.
- Supervise “tummy time” when the baby is awake.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about SIDS.