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  Magazines for Women Depict Babies in Unsafe Sleep Environments
August 17, 2009

Images show babies in positions that increase risk of SIDS

Washington, DC—More than one third of photos in women’s magazines depicted babies in unsafe sleep positions, according to a new study in Pediatrics. Additionally, the study found that two-thirds of sleep environments depicted in these magazines were also unsafe. 

Led by SIDS researchers Rachel Moon, MD, a pediatrician, and Brandi Joyner at Children’s National Medical Center, the study analyzed pictures of sleeping infants in 24 magazines with wide circulation among 20- to 40-year-old women.

The authors evaluated pictures for sleep positions, including whether or not the baby was placed on its side or stomach rather than on its back, as well as hazards in infant sleeping environments, including soft bedding. The study reviewed photos in both articles and advertisements.

“There are major discrepancies between what doctors recommend to prevent sudden infant death syndrome and what moms may see in mainstream media,” said Dr. Moon. “The most important thing for moms to realize is that what they see in magazines may not be what’s best for their baby in real life.” 

To reduce the risk of SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be placed on their backs when sleeping, on a separate sleep surface from their parents, without blankets, pillows, or other soft bedding. Dr. Moon is a member of the AAP’s Task Force on SIDS, which issued revised guidelines for SIDS prevention in October of 2005.

The study, titled “Infant Sleep Environments Depicted in Magazines Targeted to Women of Childbearing Age,” appears in the September issue of Pediatrics.

Contact: Emily Dammeyer/Jennifer Leischer; 202-476-4500.

Related Links

 Facts about SIDS
 Download SIDS tips now

 Video: Educating Parents about SIDS: Rachel Moon, MD, discusses safe sleep practices for infants on CNN (Feb. 2009). 
 Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Research

New SIDS study
Researchers at Children’s National Medical Center found that more than 1/3 of images in magazines aimed at moms depict infants in unsafe sleep environments. Read about their findings from these news organizations.
 Article: What's Wrong With This Picture? Baby Is in Danger (US News & World Report, August 17, 2009)
 Article: Sleeping Babies in Precarious Poses Infuse Magazine Ads (ABC News, August 17, 2009) 
 Article: Babies should sleep on their backs, but magazine ads rarely depict them that way: study (NY Daily News, August 17, 2009)
 Article: Magazine photos of sleeping babies may give new moms the wrong idea (Time, August 17, 2009)
Article: Children’s SIDS Expert Featured in the Washington Post (Jan. 2009)
 Article: Why is SIDS more common in African-American populations? (Children's Check Up Newsletter, Winter 2009)
 Article: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Medical Currents, Summer 2008)


About Children’s National Medical Center
Children's National Medical Center, located in Washington, DC, is a proven leader in the development of innovative new treatments for childhood illness and injury. Children’s has been serving the nation's children for more than 135 years. Children’s National is ranked among the best pediatric hospitals in America by US News & World Report and the Leapfrog Group. For more information, visit Children’s Research Institute, the academic arm of Children’s National Medical Center, encompasses the translational, clinical, and community research efforts of the institution. Learn more about our research programs at
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