January 25, 2017
1 min read

More than one-third of advertisers depict unsafe infant sleep environments

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Despite increased adherence to AAP safe sleep guidelines, 35% of advertisements for infant cribs in parenting magazines continue to depict nonadherent, unsafe sleep environments, according to a recent survey.

“The advertising onslaught parents experience while shopping for infant cribs or reading parent-oriented magazines easily eclipses the brief safe sleep advice received from primary care providers during these visits,” R. Bradley Troxler, MD, FAAP, from the division of pediatric pulmonary and sleep medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues wrote. “Despite at least one national effort by a major advertising trade association to portray safe sleep environments adherent to the most recent AAP guidelines in the market of infant sleep-related products, such advertising continues to show nonadherent sleep environments.”

In spite of four safe sleep guideline revisions since 1992, the leading causes of infant mortality in the U.S. are sudden infant death syndrome and sleep-related sudden unexpected infant death. The researchers reviewed advertisements featuring sleep in parenting magazines over the previous 24 years, and surveyed crib displays from nationwide retailers to determine whether they were adherent to the latest AAP safe sleep guidelines.

After reviewing 1,760 retail crib displays, Troxler and colleagues discovered that only half adhered to the most recent AAP guidelines. They observed the most common reasons for guideline nonadherence were the presence of bumper pads (70.2%) and loose bedding (55.7%).

Although magazine ads increasingly portray more adherent infant cribs and sleep products over time, 35% still display unsafe sleep settings. Of the magazine advertisements that portray safe sleep environments, the researchers also report racial and ethnic inequalities. They note that the adherent sleep environments only featured white children while nonwhite children, depicted in 18.5% of advertisements, were all shown in unsafe sleep settings.

“Almost 40% of current advertisements featuring sleep in children [younger than] 1 year of age continue to show unsafe sleep environments as defined by the AAP and 60% of those advertisements depict infants sleeping in nonsupine positions,” Troxler and colleagues wrote. “The AAP and public healthcare providers need to broaden current educational and advocacy efforts beyond parents and caregivers to include advertisers, stores, and crib manufacturers.” by Savannah Demko

Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.