American Association of Advertising Agencies and other advertising oversight agencies
United States of America

Over 4500 infants die suddenly and unexpectedly in the U.S. each year. Many of these deaths are accidental sleep deaths related to an unsafe sleep environment and are potentially preventable.

The National Institutes of Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and SIDS prevention organizations around the world all agree that babies should always be placed on the back to sleep. Sleeping on the stomach doubles the risk of a baby dying of SIDS.

Babies should sleep on a firm surface, such as a safety-approved crib mattress covered by a fitted sheet. Soft objects, such as pillows, quilts, sheepskins, and bumpers should never be placed in the baby’s sleep area. Sleeping on soft bedding increases the risk of SIDS 5 times. When soft bedding is combined with sleep in the prone (stomach) position, the risk of SIDS increases 21 fold!

Babies should sleep close to, but separate from the parent or caregiver. Numerous studies have demonstrated the danger of infant suffocation death when an adult sleep surface is shared with the baby. Babies dying of SIDS are more than 5 times as likely to have had a sibling in the bed. A study by Kemp, et al. demonstrated a 40-fold increase risk of dying of SIDS if the baby was sleeping together with the parents.

Advertising is a very powerful tool and has the ability to effect behaviors relating to healthcare. A recent study by Joyner and Moon (Peds 124(3):e425-e431) reported that in magazines widely read by women of childbearing age, more than one-third of the pictures showed infants in an inappropriate sleep position and two-thirds demonstrated an unsafe sleep environment. Showing infants in potentially life-threatening situations sends a very dangerous message to the public. It undermines the efforts of SIDS prevention organizations by providing a false sense of security to families and reinforcing the misconception that these dangerous sleep environments are safe.

Advocacy efforts can result in positive change as evidenced by the results of campaigns to eliminate cigarette advertising targeting minors. Efforts have also been successful with the entertainment industry to promote health by not glamorizing cigarette use and promoting seatbelt use. Help us promote a consistent safe sleep message to the public by supporting this petition to ask the advertising industry to support infant sleep safety in their advertising images.

For more information please refer to the American Academy of Pediatrics website at: www.aap.org, Safe Kids Worldwide: http://www.safekids.org/suffocation-prevention-and-sleep-safety
or Cribs for Kids at: www.cribsforkids.org. A sample of infant safe sleep guidelines can be viewed on the First Candle website at: http://www.firstcandle.org/about/for-the-media/safe-sleep-image-guidelines/

We, the undersigned, request the support of the advertising industry in educating their members about infant sleep safety and eliminating the use of inappropriate sleep images that contribute to the accidental suffocation deaths of infants in the United States.

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The Promote Safe Sleep Images in Advertising petition to American Association of Advertising Agencies and other advertising oversight agencies was written by michael goodstein and is in the category Health at GoPetition.