Unsafe advertising for infant sleep environments could be deadly

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Dec 28 2016 - 7:40am

Researchers say advertisers often depict sleeping environments which are unsafe for infants.

A baby's room

It is very important to be very careful about the safety of environments for babies due to the unusually fragile nature of developing infants. Researchers have observed that unsafe sleeping environments for infants are often depicted by advertisers.

Manufacturers of infant cribs and national magazine advertisements have been depicting sleep environments for infants which are not safe

The University of Alabama at Birmingham reports a study shows that manufacturers of infant cribs and national magazine advertisements have been depicting sleep environments for infants which are not safe. This has been occurring even though the American Academy of Pediatrics has established guidelines aimed at protecting infants from SIDS and other sleep associated deaths.

Bradley Troxler, M.D., who is an assistant professor and director of the UAB Pediatric Pulmonary Center, says that health care providers, advertisers and crib manufacturers should get together to educate parents and caregivers regarding sleep environments for kids which are considered safe. It has been suggested that advertisers and manufacturers should set a good example for child safety by encouraging parents to follow established safety guidelines in their materials which are published.

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40 percent of advertisements which depict sleep environments for kids did not adhere to recommendations for safe sleep

In this study it was uncovered that 40 percent of present advertisements which depict sleep environments for kids who are 1 year of age or younger did not adhere to recommendations for safe sleep. Bumper pads and/or soft bedding were observed to be found in most of the crib displays which depicted sleep environments which were not safe. Both bumper pads and/or soft bedding have been linked with sudden infant death syndrome or other sleep associated deaths.

A widening of educational and advocacy efforts is needed

The researchers have encouraged a widening of educational and advocacy efforts which goes beyond parents and caregivers to include stores, crib manufacturers and advertisers. It has been highlighted that extra attention should be given to messages dealing with infants who are not white. Although white children were featured in many of the advertisements, none of the advertisements which featured children who are not white adhered to guidelines for safe-sleep.

This study has been published in the journal Pediatrics. Leading causes of infant mortality in the United States are
sudden infant death syndrome and sleep associated sudden infant death which was not expected. This problem appears to be exacerbated by advertising and retail crib displays which promote infant sleep environments which do not adhere to the most recent American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. More aggressive initiatives are needed to encourage advertising which depicts safe sleep environments for kids while also educating parents and caregivers about this critical issue.

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