You can have your breastmilk and safe sleep too: a preliminary analysis of infant safe sleep data in a Midwestern home visiting program

Sheena Hussain*, Gina S. Lowell, Douglas R. Roehler, Kyran P. Quinlan, S. Darius Tandon, Lesley Schwartz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) accounted for approximately 3700 infant deaths in the US in 2015. SUID risk factors include prone sleeping, bed-sharing, soft bedding use, and maternal smoking. Infant safe sleep data in at-risk communities are difficult to obtain and home visiting programs can add to what we know. This study’s purpose is to determine how often caregivers enrolled in home visiting programs provide safe sleep environments for their infants in relation to breastfeeding status and tobacco use. Methods: Female caregivers in at-risk communities were prospectively enrolled in Midwestern home visiting programs. Those that had infants < 365 days old and completed a safe sleep survey between October 1, 2016 and May 18, 2017 were included. Caregivers’ responses (always, sometimes, or never) to three safe sleep questions were compared by breastfeeding status, caregiver tobacco use, and household tobacco use using Pearson’s chi-squared or Fisher’s exact test. Results: The characteristics of the 289 eligible female caregivers included 120 (42%) ≤ 21 years old, 137 (47%) black, 77 (27%) breastfeeding, and 60 (22%) with household tobacco use. Two hundred forty-six (85%) caregivers always placed infants in the supine position, 148 (51%) never bed-shared, and 186 (64%) never used soft bedding. Ongoing breastfeeding caregivers never bed-shared more often than those who never breastfed or weaned (66% vs. 53% vs. 39%, p = 0.003). Households with tobacco use placed infants in the supine position less (75% vs. 88%, p = 0.03), bed-shared more (62% vs. 44%, p = 0.04), and used soft bedding more (50% vs. 32%, p = 0.004) relative to those without tobacco use. Conclusions: In this group of at-risk young mothers, those who breastfed bed-shared less than mothers who were not breastfeeding; this finding has implications toward reducing the SUID risk in similar populations. This study also demonstrated that infants living with a tobacco user are less likely to be sleeping safely. This suggests that a multifaceted approach to safe sleep counseling may be needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14
Pages (from-to)3-9
Number of pages7
JournalInjury Epidemiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Breastfeeding
  • Home visiting
  • Household tobacco use
  • Infant safe sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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