While placing babies on their backs to sleep is credited with huge decrease in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, that same practice could be causing more babies to have flat spots on their heads.
A study out of the journal Pediatrics saw 47 percent of 440 healthy babies ages 7 to 12 weeks had positional plagiocephaly, a condition in which the infant's head is flattened or misshapen from too much time in the back position in the first few months after they're born.
A campaign in 1992 that taught parents and caregivers to place babies on their backs saw a 50 percent decrease in the infant mortality rate in the U.S. from SIDS, but positional plagiocephaly indicates babies had not been "given enough opportunities for repositioning," researcher Aliyah Mawji of Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada says.
BACK SLEEPING STILL THE BEST OPTION
While health officials agree that flat spots are clearly a lesser threat than SIDS, so parents should continue to place infants on their backs to sleep while incorporating repositioning strategies, including:
-Supervising the baby while he or she is playing on the stomach -Holding the baby upright over one shoulder during the day -Changing the location of the baby's crib so he or she is encouraged to look in different directions
BY THE NUMBERS
205 infants had some form of plagiocephaly
78% were classified as having "mild form"
19% were classified as having "moderate form"
3% were classified as having "severe form"
63% of infants were affected on the right side of the head