A recent study in Pediatrics found that more than 1/3 of photos in women’s magazines depict babies in unsafe sleep positions and that 2/3 of sleep environments depicted are also unsafe. The study was led by SIDS researchers Rachel Moon, MD, a pediatrician, and Brandi Joyner at Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, D.C. It analyzed images of sleeping infants in articles and advertisements found in 24 magazines circulated among 20- to 40-year old women. Researchers evaluated whether the baby was sleeping on its side or stomach rather than its back, and whether hazards such as soft bedding were present. According to Dr. Moon, there were “major discrepancies” between what the mainstream media depict and what doctors recommend in order to prevent SIDS.

To reduce the risk of SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be placed on their backs while sleeping, on a separate surface from their parents, and without blankets, pillows, or other soft bedding.

The study, titled “Infant Sleep Environments Depicted in Magazines Targeted to Women of Childbearing Age,” will appear in the September issue of Pediatrics.