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April 5th, 2010
05:51 PM ET

Study: Concerns about comfort and choking prevent some moms from placing babies in safest sleeping position

By Miriam Falco
CNN Medical News Managing Editor

A mom’s beliefs about her child’s comfort and the perceived risk of choking can prevent her from placing her baby on its back to sleep, which increases the child’s risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome.

A new study finds that the position a baby sleeps in is often determined by the quality and quantity of advice new moms get and whether they believe their child will be uncomfortable or choke.

Researchers interviewed 2,300 mothers. 61 percent of the moms surveyed reported placing their babies on their backs to sleep, which means nearly 40 percent did not, putting their infants at increased risk for SIDS.

74 percent of the moms in the survey were African-American, which was intentional because African-American babies are more than two times as likely to die of SIDS as white babies, according to the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development.

Reducing the number of SIDS deaths is what drove study author Dr. Isabelle Von Kohorn to conduct the research. She is a pediatrician who specializes in treating newborns at Yale University’s School of Medicine.

Von Kohorn found that a mom’s belief that her child was uncomfortable or more likely to choke if placed on his or her back was more of a driving force than any advice about the best position for a baby to sleep in.

Doctors and nurses who take these beliefs into consideration may be in a better position to advise new moms about the best sleeping position.

“We want to be sure that all health care providers are giving clear, unequivocal advice to place babies on their backs.” Von Kohorn said.

But only 56 percent of doctors and 44 percent of nurses are talking to moms about this having their infants sleep only on their backs for the first year of life. Researchers also learned that one in seven doctors and nurses were giving out incorrect advice.

“We want to be sure that all health care providers are giving clear, unequivocal advice to place babies on their backs.

There’s also a need to educate those around the new moms about the safest sleeping position says Dr. Alan Fleischman, medical director for the March of Dimes.

“It’s not intuitively obvious that putting babies on their backs is beneficial.”

Fleishman adds that doing so has saved a tremendous number of babies’ lives.

However, researchers did learn that when moms were advised about the safest sleeping position – from their doctor, nurses or the news media – they were more likely to follow the recommendations.

Von Kohorn says,” this is an important finding. Just getting the word out will save a life. Simply getting the word out through the media –will save a life. To stop babies from dying, that’s my life’s goal.”

The recommendation to put babies on their backs dates back to 1992, when the American Academy of Pediatrics changed their recommendations. In 1994, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched the “Back to Sleep” education campaign, to reduce the number of SIDS deaths. According to the NIH, the number of SIDS deaths has been cut in half since the campaign began.

However, according to this new study, about half of African–American babies in the United States are sleeping in positions other than on their backs.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


April 5th, 2010
05:40 PM ET

OxyContin reformulation OK'd

By Matt Sloane
CNN Medical News Producer

A popular painkiller, known for its high abuse potential – OxyContin – is being reformulated, the Food and Drug Administration said Monday.

According to the release, the drug in its current form is designed to release small quantities of the active ingredients over an extended period of time, but abusers have found ways to circumvent the drug’s time-release properties and ingest large quantities all at once.

The new formulation, approved today by the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and research – would “prevent the opioid medication from being cut, broken, chewed, crushed or dissolved to release more medication.”

Experts saythat while this reformulation may reduce the risk of abuse by injection or snorting, addicts abusing the drug by mouth may be able to achieve similar highs by taking more of the drug.

“Although this new formulation of OxyContin may provide only an incremental advantage over the current version of the drug, it is still a step in the right direction,” said Bob Rappaport, M.D., director of the Division of Anesthesia and Analgesia Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research in the agency’s press release.

According to the release, and data from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, approximately half a million people abused OxyContin for the first time in 2008 alone.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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