How texting can protect babies from sudden death

July 25, 2017

A series of educational videos delivered by text or email successfully encouraged new mothers to use safe sleep practices for their babies, reducing the risk of sudden unexpected infant death, a new study has found. The research comes from the University of Virginia Schools of Medicine and Nursing, Yale University School of Medicine and Boston University School of Medicine.

A complementary program in which nurses delivered safe-sleep messages and modeled safe-sleep practices did not significantly influence adherence to the recommended sleep practices. That finding aligns with previous studies that found that mothers usually intended to follow the safe-sleep recommendations but then, when they returned home, did not.

The mobile health program, on the other hand, offered a way to provide messages during periods when parents are most likely to have difficulty following the recommendations, the researchers found. "For instance, many parents worry about their baby choking when they're on the back. Therefore, we sent them a video showing them that this is not true," said Rachel Moon, MD, of the UVA School of Medicine. "A lot of parents can be overwhelmed when caring for a new baby, partly because they are not sure what to do or get different advice from different people. We think that the videos and support that we provided in the texts and emails helped to give parents the information that they needed when they needed it and also addressed common concerns many parents have."

SIDS and Sudden Unexpected Infant Death

Sudden infant death syndrome, commonly called SIDS, has been halved by the Back to Sleep national public awareness campaign, the researchers noted. Despite that, approximately 3,500 infants still died during their sleep in 2014, either from SIDS, strangulation, suffocation or unknown causes.

To reduce that number, the researchers developed two interventions that were designed to be readily adaptable for widespread use. They then recruited new mothers at 16 U.S. hospitals to test the effect of the interventions; 1,200 women ultimately completed surveys about their behavior.

The mobile health intervention consisted of text messages and emails timed to provide the mothers useful information, including instructional videos, at periods when they were likely to confront barriers with complying with recommended safe-sleep practices. This significantly improved compliance with several recommended practices when the infants were at least 2 months of age, including:

While the nursing intervention alone did not significantly improve any of those behaviors, the study found that combining it with the mobile health program produced the highest adherence to the recommendation that babies sleep on their backs.

The study achieved rates of back sleeping (92.5 percent) and roomsharing without bedsharing (85.9 percent), which were much higher than achieved in previous trials and in the mothers who received different educational videos (control group) in this study, the researchers noted.

"We're hoping to expand this study to larger groups of mothers, particularly those who are higher risk, to better understand what types of messages work the best, and what the best timing is for these messages," said Fern Hauck, MD, of the UVA School of Medicine. "We think that this technology will allow us to provide parents with better information on how to keep their babies safe."
-end-
Findings Published

he researchers have described their findings in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The research team consisted of Moon, Hauck, Eve R. Colson, Ann L. Kellams, Nicole L. Geller, Timothy Heeren, Stephen M. Kerr, Emily E. Drake, Kawai Tanabe, Mary McClain and Michael J. Corwin.

The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, grant R01HD072815-01, and the CJ Foundation for SIDS.

University of Virginia Health System

Related Sleep Articles from Brightsurf:

Size and sleep: New research reveals why little things sleep longer
Using data from humans and other mammals, a team of scientists including researchers from the Santa Fe Institute has developed one of the first quantitative models that explains why sleep times across species and during development decrease as brains get bigger.

Wind turbine noise affects dream sleep and perceived sleep restoration
Wind turbine noise (WTN) influences people's perception of the restorative effects of sleep, and also has a small but significant effect on dream sleep, otherwise known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, a study at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows.

To sleep deeply: The brainstem neurons that regulate non-REM sleep
University of Tsukuba researchers identified neurons that promote non-REM sleep in the brainstem in mice.

Chronic opioid therapy can disrupt sleep, increase risk of sleep disorders
Patients and medical providers should be aware that chronic opioid use can interfere with sleep by reducing sleep efficiency and increasing the risk of sleep-disordered breathing, according to a position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

'Short sleep' gene prevents memory deficits associated with sleep deprivation
The UCSF scientists who identified the two known human genes that promote 'natural short sleep' -- nightly sleep that lasts just four to six hours but leaves people feeling well-rested -- have now discovered a third, and it's also the first gene that's ever been shown to prevent the memory deficits that normally accompany sleep deprivation.

Short sleep duration and sleep variability blunt weight loss
High sleep variability and short sleep duration are associated with difficulties in losing weight and body fat.

Nurses have an increased risk of sleep disorders and sleep deprivation
According to preliminary results of a new study, there is a high prevalence of insufficient sleep and symptoms of common sleep disorders among medical center nurses.

Common sleep myths compromise good sleep and health
People often say they can get by on five or fewer hours of sleep, that snoring is harmless, and that having a drink helps you to fall asleep.

Sleep tight! Researchers identify the beneficial role of sleep
Why do animals sleep? Why do humans 'waste' a third of their lives sleeping?

Does extra sleep on the weekends repay your sleep debt? No, researchers say
Insufficient sleep and untreated sleep disorders put people at increased risk for metabolic problems, including obesity and diabetes.

Read More: Sleep News and Sleep Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.