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New study reveals infants at higher risk of dying in their sleep when with a babysitter

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WASHINGTON (ABC7) — The University of Virginia (UVA) Children's Hospital released a new study that reveals infants are more likely to die in their sleep when in the care of someone other than a parent.

According to the study, safe sleep practices, such as placing babies on their backs and avoiding unsafe locations like couches, are not being followed when babies are in the care of a friend, relative or babysitter. As such, researchers recommend that parents educate their caretakers -- who may not be aware of the most recent safe practices.

“If someone else – a babysitter, relative, or friend – is taking care of your baby, please make sure that they know to place your baby on the back in a crib and without any bedding,” Rachel Moon, MD, of the University of Virginia School of Medicine and the UVA Children's Hospital stated in a press release.

The study also found that nearly 75 percent of licensed childcare providers follow safe sleep practices and the higher risk is among caregivers that are a relative, friend or babysitter.

“A lot of relatives and friends may not be aware that babies are safest on their backs,” researcher Jeffrey Colvin, MD, of Children’s Mercy Kansas City stated in the press release. “They may have raised children before we knew that this was safest.”

The following is information released in the study:

The researchers reviewed more than 10,000 infant deaths and found that 1,375 occurred when a parent was not present. Among those 1,375 cases, they determined:

• Babies were less likely to be placed on their back, the sleep position recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, than when under parental care.

• Babies were more likely to be placed in sleep environments with objects that might prove hazardous. The AAP recommends that sleep spaces be free of toys and soft bedding, including blankets and sleep bumpers.

• 72.5 percent of licensed childcare providers placed the babies in a crib or bassinet, as recommended. Among babysitters, this number was 49.1 percent. Among relatives, the number was only 29.4 percent, and among friends it was 27.1 percent.

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• 54.1 percent of childcare providers had placed infants in the recommended supine position (on the back), compared with only 38.4 percent of relatives, 38.6 percent of friends and 37.8 percent of babysitters.

• Deaths under the supervision of friends and relatives were most likely to occur while the babies were held or placed on an adult bed.

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