Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Pediatrics. 2004 Mar;113(3 Pt 1):542-7.

Back to Sleep: an educational intervention with women, infants, and children program clients.

Author information

  • 1Department of General Pediatrics, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC 20010, USA.



The incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is 2 to 3 times higher in the black population compared with the US population as a whole. Prone sleeping is also twice as prevalent in black infants. Standard modes of communication (media, brochures) regarding the Back to Sleep (BTS) campaign have been less effective with blacks. The objective of this study was to determine whether a 15-minute educational intervention is effective in changing sleep position practice among black parents.


A trained health educator led 15-minute sessions about safe infant sleep practices for groups of 3 to 10 parents of young infants who attended a Women, Infants, and Children clinic in Washington, DC. We performed pre- and postsession surveys, asking about sleep position, reasons for choosing a sleep position, and knowledge of the relationship between sleep position and SIDS. We then interviewed parents 6 months after the intervention and compared this group with a group of parents at a different Women, Infants, and Children site who did not receive the intervention.


A total of 310 parents/caregivers participated in sessions from October 2001 to July 2002. Mothers comprised 84.5% of the participants, fathers 6.5%, and other relatives 9.0%. Parents had a mean age of 26.2 years (range: 15-64; standard deviation: 8.3), and 76.5% had graduated from high school. For 51%, this was their first child. Before the intervention, more than half (57.7%) of infants reportedly slept on their back, with the remainder sleeping back/side or side (15%) and prone (17.3%). Approximately 85% (266) of infants were sleeping in the same room as the parents. Only 28.1% of parents initially believed that prone sleeping definitely increases the risk of SIDS. Infants were more likely to be placed supine when previous children were placed supine or when parents had more than a high school education. Parents were also more likely to place infants supine when they believed that prone increases the risk of SIDS, they had previous knowledge of BTS, and they were aware that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends supine position for infants. Sleep position was not affected by where the infant slept, number of parents in the home, presence of a grandmother in the home, or presence of smokers in the home. Immediately after the intervention, 85.3% planned to place infants on the back, and 55.7% now believed that prone definitely increases the risk of SIDS. When compared with a control group of parents 6 months after the intervention, parents who attended the educational intervention were more likely to place their infants on the back (75% vs 45%), less likely to bedshare (16% vs 44.2%), less likely to cite infant comfort as a reason for sleep position (14.5% vs 29.2%), and more likely to be aware of BTS recommendations (72.4% vs 38.9%).


A 15-minute educational session with small groups of black parents is effective in informing parents about the importance of safe sleep position and in changing parent behavior. The effect of the intervention is sustained throughout the first 6 months of life, when the infant is at the highest risk for SIDS.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk