As a pediatrician who spends most of his or her time giving advice to parents with young children, I often wonder how much of what I tell parents really has an effect on their behavior? I try so hard to be up to date on the information and advice that I offer and yet, does it really matter? Does it really change their thinking and behavior? Pediatricians see, all the time, when parents don’t listen to what we advice, be it injuries from a backyard trampoline, use of cold and cough meds in young children, or feeding their children a diet high in highly processed foods.
Given all that, it was with great interest that I recently came across a study that looked at whether parents listen to the advice that we give them about “Safe Sleep” practices for very young infants. You know, always on the back when unattended, no pillowing or loose blanketing, a hard surface etc. etc. The study appeared in JAMA Pediatrics in 2013. Sadly, the authors found that more than half of parents didn’t recall any advice being given to them about the number one risk factor for crib death, bed sharing with an adult. If this is true, it is a major failure of the pediatric community and I find this very disheartening. But there is good news here as well. The study found that the majority (86%) of parents choose not to bed share with their new infant AND that a physicians warning about the danger of bed sharing, further reduced this behavior. When pediatricians speak, patients are listening and changing their behavior.
If you have ever experienced a crib death, you know how devastating this is experience is but we have made great strides at eliminating this terrible trauma. Since 1992, the risk of a child dying of crib death in the US has fallen by 50%. Maybe with more attention, education, and research, we can make crib death a tragedy of the past, just like smallpox, polio, and diptheria. If you are new to the concept or Safe Sleep and need more information, take a few minutes to listen or read to my pedcast on the subject, https://www.docsmo.com/safe-sleep-environment-for-infants-2011-pedcast/. I think you will be glad you did. And share this with anyone you know who has a new baby or grand-baby in the house. And of course, please subscribe to Portable Practical Pediatrics at my website, www.docsmo.com. I read the journals and go to the conferences, and you get relevant timely information delivered right to your computer or mp3 player. AND, if you want to take your pediatric knowledge to the next level and be the best informed parent at the park, purchase or download my book, “Can Doesn’t Mean Should”. If you like my pedcasts, I know you will love my book. Amazon link http://tinyurl.com/o6ckdcv, Barnes and Nobles http://tinyurl.com/ploq9wd, and soon on iBooks.
This is Dr. Paul Smolen, hoping that none of our precious KIDS will ever be a victim of SIDS. Until next time.
1. Safe Sleep pedcast:
2. Colson, ER, JAMA Pediatrics: 2013;167:1032-1037
3. Charlotte Observer Safe Sleep Poster