A Picture Worth a Thousand Words Should Also Be Worth Your Child’s Life

Tara Haelle
(Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.)

One out of every six advertisements in two of the most popular US parenting magazines illustrate a scene or endorse a product that violates a policy recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found a recent study. That’s more than 300 ads in just two years’ worth of the magazine’s issues.

Whether it was toddlers reaching into a big bowl of popcorn or a baby sleeping amidst a sea of stuffed animals, the ads conveyed a message contradicting what the nation’s largest group of pediatricians has deemed safe and appropriate for children — and more than half of them showed potentially life-threatening situations.

“There’s a fair amount of research showing that advertising affects behavior and that we make decisions based on advertising,” especially related to teenage smoking, drinking and food choices, said Dr. Mike Pitt, an assistant professor of pediatrics at University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital and the author who presented the study this week at the AAP’s National Conference in Washington, D.C. “Obviously if advertising didn’t work, people wouldn’t do it. Why not demonstrate what’s in the best interest of children and not normalize behavior that may be harmful?” Pitt said.

They analyzed all the ads in all the issues for Parents Magazine and Family Fun Magazine (chosen for circulation numbers) in 2009 and 2014 and compared them to all the policy statements on the AAP’s website for parents, HealthyChildren.org. Of just over 2,000 ads that qualified as ones aimed at selling a product for children’s use, 15.7% contained images or products going against AAP guidelines.

Consider these examples:

Children under age 7 eating or picking up popcorn
Gummy vitamin ads recommending the product for age 2 and up, since the AAP recommends no gummy food items until age 4.
Herbal flower drops advertised to treat daydreaming in kids. (Yes, really.)
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Images with children under age 8 holding latex balloons, a choking hazard.
Any image with a trampoline since the AAP recommends against trampoline use
Children standing up in the main compartment of grocery carts.
Children under age 12 on a boat or leaping into a lake without a life jacket on.
Children under age 2 holding smartphone devices
Educational videos that specifically mentioned being used for children under 2.
Infants sleeping on their stomachs or in cribs with stuffed animals, pillows, blankets or other soft objects.
Homeopathic treatments for infant teething or ear aches.
The choking hazard images — such as the popcorn and balloon images in ads — were among the 59% of violations the researchers considered life-threatening. The most fatal item children can choke on is a latex balloon, Pitt said. Other categories classified as potentially life-threatening included ones with non-FDA-approved therapeutic products or ones violating playground, water, fall, or sleep safety guidelines.

This stock photo may look cute, but it illustrates an unsafe sleep environment. Such an image would have been a violation if it had appeared in an ad in one of the magazines in this study. Photo by Paul Cioca.
This stock photo may look cute, but it illustrates an unsafe sleep environment. Such an image would have been a violation if it had appeared in an ad in one of the magazines in this study. Photo by Paul Cioca.

Pitt said his team did not necessarily endorsed the AAP policy statements by doing the study. He was surprised, for example, to find the AAP recommends never putting children in shopping carts. The trickiest one to decide whether to include was infant formula. All the formula ads counted as a “violation” and comprised 11% of the ads going against policy statements.

“The reason we opted to include formula is that the AAP has its own statement that there should not be direct consumer advertising for formula, which coincides with a WHO recommendation,” Pitt said. He pointed out that studies have shown that women are less likely to breastfeed the more formula advertising they are exposed to.

Making changes to follow AAP recommendations wouldn’t mean not advertising at all for most products. Yes, to technically align with all AAP recommendations, magazines would have to scrap ads for infant walkers, non-FDA-approved therapies for children and formula (and the latter would never happen, Pitt acknowledges). But most ads simply require tweaks: put a bicycle helmet on a kid. Make the girl reaching into the popcorn bowl a few years older.

“I think the advertisers and editors want the best for children,” he said. “I don’t think they’re making these decisions to illustrate bad examples.”

And how to do it? Magazine advertising departments could create a set of guidelines that advertisers must follow, such as requiring all images of children on bicycles or scooters to wear a helmet and all photos of kids in car seats to show the straps correctly done. Pitt said his wife, who works in advertising, described similar guidelines in TV advertising, such as requiring any person in a white coat in a commercial to be a real doctor, not an actor.

Clearly, industry does pay attention when there’s enough awareness about an issue, the researchers found. Between 2009 and 2014, for example, Pitt’s team found a steep drop in violations of AAP’s safe infant sleep recommendations, from 19 ads in 2009 to 1 ad in 2014.

“Honing in on those improvements and exploring why they have been made versus others could help holistically improve compliance across the board,” said Avery Holton, PhD, a professor studying media effects and health communication at the University of Utah (and a former graduate school peer of mine).

While Holton wasn’t surprised at the overall findings, the proportion of life-threatening did startle him.

“You would expect to see spotty violations here and there, but you would also expect to see much lower numbers in terms of violations that are considered life-threatening versus those that are not necessarily immediate threats to a child’s well-being,” Holton said.

And pictures do matter, he said.

“We already know that a vast majority of the public seek out health information from the mass media, particularly resources that are perceived to be authorities in parenting such as parenting magazines and websites,” Holton said. “So it’s important that these outlets, as well as those contributing to them, are rigorous in the content they provide. That content can change parental beliefs and behaviors, and visuals can play a strong role in that.”

Simply portraying images that jibe with AAP recommendations does not guarantee that readers of these magazines will suddenly follow those recommendations, Holton cautioned. But seeing images that conflict with what a doctor says (perhaps even subconsciously), can “possibly raise anxiety levels, and, in extreme cases, change parental behaviors in negative ways,” Holton said.

“Social scientists, physicians, and number of others have been trying for years to figure out ways to positively change health behaviors and outcomes using visuals. What they’ve found is sort of a mixed bag,” Holton said. “What’s for certain, though, is that images can be powerful tools to help explain complex health issues and to potentially drive changes in beliefs and behaviors.”

My book, The Informed Parent, with co-author Emily Willingham, is available for pre-order. Find me on Twitter here.

Link to original article:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/tarahaelle/2015/10/29/a-picture-worth-a-thousand-words-should-also-be-worth-your-childs-life/

LeConte’s Dolly Parton Birthing Unit Achieves Safe Sleep Hospital Certification

September 8, 2015

The National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program has recognized LeConte Medical Center for its commitment to leadership for best practices and education on infant safe sleep. The program was created by Cribs for Kids®, a Pittsburgh-based organization dedicated to preventing infant, sleep-related deaths due to accidental suffocation.

“Sleep-related death results in the loss of over 3500 infants every year in the United States,” comments Michael H. Goodstein, MD, FAAP, Neonatologist, Medical Director/Research, Cribs for Kids, director of York County Cribs for Kids Program. “We know that consistent education can have a profound effect on infant mortality, and this program is designed to encourage safe sleep education and recognize those hospitals that are taking an active role in reducing these unnecessary deaths.”

The new National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program has three levels of safe sleep excellence: Bronze Certified Safe Sleep Hospital, Silver Certified Safe Sleep Leader, and Gold Certified Safe Sleep Champion. The Dolly Parton Birthing Unit at LeConte Medical Center achieved the Bronze Certified Safe Sleep Hospital recognition. The nursing staff at LeConte Medical Center

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Cribs for Kids Teams with First Responders to Reduce Infant Deaths in Washington

Posted by Veronica Quintero, Reporter

WAKE UP NORTHWEST – The national Cribs for Kids® program is piloting a safety initiative in Washington State in an effort to reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

This is in partnership with the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission and there’s two parts to the initiative. “Cops n Cribs” for law enforcement and “Code Red” for firefighters.

In the course of their duties, law enforcement and firefighters are being trained to ask families where their babies sleep. Often times, there may or may not be a crib available.

Deborah Robinson, Infant Death Investigation Specialist tells us the majority of sudden infant deaths occur in unsafe sleep situations.

“Firefighters are going in, they’re re-doing cribs. For low-income families who don’t have a crib or the ability to buy a crib, they’re getting portable pack ‘n plays,” said Robinson.

On a local level, the Yakima Police Department tells us they’ve implemented a “Safe Sleep” program to prevent infant deaths as well. First responders can provide families with safe sleep cards produced by the Washington Department of Health. The cards have information about SIDS and resources for parents to keep their kids safe.

Link to Original Article:  http://www.nbcrightnow.com/story/29991429/cribs-for-kids-teams-with-first-responders-to-reduce-infant-deaths-in-washington

Keeping Kids Fit: Creating a safe sleep environment for your baby

Most newborn babies thrive and celebrate their first birthdays. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for every 1,000 babies born in the U.S., six will die during their first year. This is known as infant mortality. As summer winds down, September is a perfect time to discuss how to keep your baby safe as we recognize National Infant Mortality Awareness Month.

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Record Low Sleep-Related Infant Deaths in 2014

When B’more for Healthy Babies launched in 2009, Baltimore City experienced 27 sleep-related infant deaths – a record high for the city. On July 22, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen announced, that in 2014, that number was down to 13, the lowest ever recorded in Baltimore City’s history.

Our first campaign phase, SLEEP SAFE, focused on educating parents and caregivers about safe sleep practices. In order to continue our progress, we recently launched a new phase including smoke-free messaging. In the words of Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen:

“Education is the key to changing behavior to prevent these tragic deaths. The proper sleeping environment is critical.  That means everyone needs to know the ABCs of Safe Sleep – that babies should be put to sleep on Alone, on their Backs, and in Cribs, without exposure to secondhand smoke.  This is the best way to ensure babies stay healthy and are ready to thrive.”

As we celebrate this milestone, B’more for Healthy Babies and our many partners remain committed to making sure that all babies in Baltimore City are born healthy and ready to thrive in strong families and communities.

To learn more about our progress and future directions, please read the press release from Baltimore City Health Department.



Knox Co. Health Department shares tips on safe sleeping for infants

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knox Co. Health Department shares tips on safe sleeping for infants.

In 2012, officials say 121 babies died in Tennessee due to unsafe sleeping conditions, including co-sleeping. That includes sleeping in the same area as other children, pets, or adults, or sleeping in unsafe environments, such as couches, chairs or swings.

Here are the A-B-C’s of safe sleeping:

A is for alone: Always put the baby to sleep alone.
B stands for, “on the baby’s back,”: an infant should be placed to sleep on his or her side or stomach.
C is for crib: Always put a baby to sleep in a crib that is empty of other items such as pillows, toys, blankets and bumper pads.

If you can’t afford a crib, there is a resource in our community called, “East Tennessee Safe Sleep Initiative: Cribs for Kids.”

This local coalition is made up of organizations, including the Knox Co. Health Department. This grant helps provide infant beds and educational information to families in need.

To see if you qualify for assistance, email health@knoxcounty.org for more information or call (865) 215-5170

Original Article can be found at: http://www.local8now.com/news/headlines/Knox-Co-Health-Department-shares-tips-on-safe-sleeping-for-infants-312930351.html

Grant helps Armstrong agency provide cribs to needy families

By Brad Pedersen
Thursday, July 2, 2015, 3:31 a.m.

Armstrong County Children, Youth and Family Services will be able to help at least 10 area babies sleep a little easier after receiving a mini-grant from Cribs for Kids, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit.

The agency Wednesday received 10 Safe Sleep Survival Kits, which include portable cribs, pacifiers, sheets and other necessities that it will provide to low-income families.

“Whenever we encounter families at our agency with a new baby, one of the first things we ask about is if they’ve got proper sleeping arrangements,” said CYFS Administrator Dennis Demagone. “We provide these to families if there is a need, so this going to help us out a lot.”

Cribs for Kids gave similar grants to 24 other organizations throughout the state, said spokeswoman Heather Glaser.

According to the organization’s most recent statistics, 84 infants in Pennsylvania died in their sleep in 2011. About 90 percent of the deaths were attributed to babies suffocating or choking while sleeping on a couch or the beds of their parents or siblings.

“A lot of these cases were because families couldn’t afford a crib for their child,” Glaser said. “These deaths are very sad and tragic because there’s no real warning and they could have been prevented if these babies had a safe sleep environment.”

Each year, the CYFS gives out about 20 portable cribs which cost about $75 each, Demagone said.

“This will take care of about half of the families who take help, which will be a considerable savings for us,” Demagone said.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

Link to Original Article: http://triblive.com/news/armstrong/8666730-74/families-cribs-agency#ixzz3ekGXR25Q
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Connecticut Senate Passes ‘Safe Sleep’ Bill, DCF Seeks to Reduce Deaths

By Kate Ramunni, kramunni@nhregister.com, @kateramunni on Twitter

Children who are the victims of child abuse grab headlines, but unsafe sleep conditions are far more deadly for infants in Connecticut, something that both the General Assembly and the state Department of Children and Families are addressing.

According to a report from the Office of the Child Advocate and the Connecticut Child Fatality Review Panel, three times as many children die from unsafe sleeping conditions as die from abuse. And the solution could be as simple as putting an infant to sleep on her back rather than her stomach.

Education is vital in assuring newborns go home to a safe environment and, this week, the state Senate passed a bill that requires hospitals to educate new parents how to assure their newborn is sleeping safely. It now goes before the state House of Representatives and, if approved, to the governor for his signature.

The bill makes it mandatory that parents or legal guardians of newborns are furnished with information on safe sleep practices on the baby’s discharge.

Changes are also coming to the way the Department of Children and Families deals with infant deaths after an eight-year study of infants who died whose families had DCF involvement. The department will focus on identifying infants at highest risk and increase oversight and services to those families.

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Missouri Legislature Passes Broad Child Protection Bill

Original Source-St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/missouri-legislature-passes-broad-child-protection-bill/article_03866e39-8e6d-56dd-adca-3905a4d0f2c4.html

By Nancy Cambria

The majority of Missouri’s child cares are set to undergo major changes in their infant sleep safety standards as well as enhanced transparency on whether they enroll children who aren’t fully immunized.

The Missouri Senate voted 33-1 Wednesday to approve a broad child protection bill sponsored by Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane.

The bill, headed to the desk of Gov. Jay Nixon, further empowers the state Children’s Division to investigate allegations of sexual abuse against children by other children under age 14 who demonstrate “problem sexual behavior.”

If signed by Nixon, all of Missouri’s licensed child care centers would be required to follow the most current recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding sleep safety practices for infants under 1. That includes banning blankets, bumpers, soft toys and pillows from infant cribs, unless a parent has a physician waiver.

The last time Missouri revised its child care sleep safety standards was in 2011 when it required licensed caregivers to place infants on their backs during sleep to prevent sudden unexpected infant death and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.

The legislation was originally introduced by Rep. Jeanne Kirkton, R-Webster Groves, in response to the SIDS death of 7-month-old Owen Haber, who died last summer after napping with a weighted blanket at the state-licensed Webster Child Care Center. State records show that Owen’s parents had never been informed such a blanket was being used on their child to help him sleep.

“I’m grateful that we were able to do something meaningful, and that everyone realized that our babies have to be a priority,” Owen’s mom, Anna Haber, said Wednesday after the bill’s passage.

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Magazine, Internet images fail to promote infant sleep safety

Images of infants sleeping in unsafe environments are pervasive in women’s magazines and on stock photo websites, which could create confusion among parents and put babies at risk, according to a study to be presented Saturday, April 25 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in San Diego.
Since 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that babies be put to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of (SIDS). The AAP also discourages bed-sharing and advises parents to keep soft objects out of cribs, including pillows, blankets and bumper pads.

“Sleep-related deaths are the third leading cause of infant mortality, responsible for more than 3,500 deaths each year,” said lead author Michael Goodstein, MD, FAAP, attending neonatologist, WellSpan York Hospital, and clinical associate professor of pediatrics, Pennsylvania State University.

Since advertisements and photographs can influence behavior, Dr. Goodstein and his colleagues wanted to determine if magazine images and stock photos used by advertisers are consistent with AAP safe sleep recommendations.

Researchers searched the top three stock photo websites and 26 magazines published in 2014 that target expectant parents or parents of young children. They found 579 stock photos of sleeping babies not being held and 12 magazine pictures that accompanied articles or ads.

Pictures were analyzed for the infant’s sleep position, sleep location (e.g., crib) and presence of other people on the same sleep surface as the infant. In addition, researchers looked for bumper pads, blankets, stuffed animals and other items.

About half of the stock photos and 67 percent of magazine pictures showed babies correctly positioned on their backs. In addition, only about 16 percent of stock photos and 29 percent of magazine images depicted safe sleep environments according to AAP guidelines.

“One-third of the magazine images showed infants sleeping on the tummy, which doubles the risk of SIDS,” Dr. Goodstein said.

Stock photography websites are of even greater concern because images available on the Internet routinely depict hazardous sleep conditions regarding SIDS and suffocation, he added.

“Magazines that are geared toward expectant mothers and new parents and manufacturers of infant products and their advertisers need to take the lead in using images that promote infant safety,” Dr. Goodstein concluded.

More information: Dr. Goodstein will present “Infant Sleep Environments in the Media: An Evaluation of Images in Stock Photographs and Magazines Targeting Women of Childbearing Age” from 11:45 a.m.-noon PT Saturday, April 25. To view the study abstract, go to http://www.abstracts2view.com/pas/view.php?nu=PAS15L1_1365.6



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