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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58062. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058062. Epub 2013 Mar 6.

First-time parents are not well enough prepared for the safety of their infant.

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Department of Public Health, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.



Unintentional falls and poisonings are major causes of death and disability among infants. Although guidelines are available to prevent these injuries, safety behaviours are not performed by parents, causing unnecessary risks. Little is known about safety behaviours of first-time parents and whether they behave according to these guidelines. AIMS/OBJECTIVES/PURPOSE: The objective of this study was to compare safety behaviours of first-time parents with those of non-first-time parents and to determine correlates of unsafe behaviour of parents of infants. We used self-report questionnaires to assess safety behaviours in a cross-sectional study sample.


A total of 1439 parents visiting a preventive youth healthcare centre in the Netherlands were invited to complete a questionnaire with regard to the prevention of falls and poisonings. Parents were categorized into first-time parents and non-first-time parents. Correlates of parents' child safety behaviours were determined using multiple logistic regression analyses.


Most respondents were mothers (93.2%); 48.2% of families were first-time parents. The mean age of the infants was 7.2 months (SD 1.1; range 4-12), 51.8% were boys, and 34.5% of infants could crawl. First-time parents were more likely not to have a stair gate installed (OR 16.46; 95% CI 12.36-21.93); were more likely to store cleaning products unsafely (OR 4.55; 95% CI 3.59-5.76); and were more likely to store medicines unsafely (OR 2.90; 95% CI 2.31-3.63) than non-first-time parents. First-time parents were more likely to not have a window guard installed (OR 1.52; 95% CI 1.08-2.15) (all P<0.05).


First-time parents are not well prepared for the safety of their infant, causing unnecessary risks. The various parents' safety behaviours were influenced by different variables, for example, age of the infant, crawling of the infant, mother's educational level, mother's ethnicity, self-efficacy, vulnerability, severity.

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