AARC Member Co-Authors Safe Sleep Study in Pediatrics

 Published: January 19, 2017

By: Fernanda Teixeira


Tammy Shikany
Tammy Shikany and her colleagues suggest safe sleep for infants needs to be a higher priority for advertisers in a new study in Pediatrics.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (APP) clearly states that extra bedding, blankets, bumper pads, pillows, stuffed animals and other toys should never be placed in the cribs of infants due to the risk they pose for sudden infant death syndrome.

But cribs in ads and stores are still being decked out with these adorable accoutrements aimed at tugging on the heart strings of moms- and dads-to-be.

After hearing a presentation that touched on the issue in 2014, AARC member Tammy Shikany, MAE, RRT, and her colleagues from the Pediatric Pulmonary Center (PPC) at Children’s Hospital of Alabama decided to gauge just how bad the discrepancy was.

They just published their findings in the January issue of Pediatrics.

Collecting the data

“It was a group idea that we started thinking about when Dr. Abby Wagner from the Florida Pediatric Pulmonary Center came and did a broadcast for the PPC and the Alabama Department of Public Health,” explains Shikany, who serves as an asthma educator and clinical research coordinator at the hospital. “I was able to get involved with the research because it was part of my work as a trainee with the PPC, which is a federally funded training grant.”

Much of the time she spent on the study involved collecting the data that would be needed to show how safe sleep is being neglected in ads and stores. “I spent many hours collecting data on the cribs in person at the various brick and mortar stores as well as capturing data on cribs online.”

Overall, 1758 crib retail displays were assessed along with 1893 print magazine ads over three different time periods: 1992, 2010, and 2015. While the APP guidelines were more likely to be followed in the ads over time, 35% of current ads were still depicting unsafe sleep environments for infants age one and under.

Only half of the retail displays depicted safe sleep environments.

Public health efforts are needed

Shikany and her colleagues hope their study will drive home an important message for clinicians who work with infants and their parents. “While health professionals do a great job educating parents of newborn babies, we also need to engage in public health efforts at a broader level, to educate those who make decisions regarding advertisements, because these ads can influence parents just as much as advice from a health care provider,” she says.

“We hope the results will raise awareness and be a catalyst for such future public health efforts.”

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