African American infants from low socioeconomic backgrounds remain at an increased risk of sleep-related death. In this study, 46 African American mothers were surveyed on their infants’ sleep practices on 3 different encounters on the same day, specifically during a well-baby visit with the pediatrician, safe sleep discussion with a health educator, and with a research assistant, to assess disclosure rates for unsafe sleep practices. With the pediatrician, participants were asked to provide a comprehensive medical history in addition to infant examination in keeping with professional guidelines. This included the provision of age-appropriate anticipatory guidance topics, such as safe sleep. During the encounter with the research assistant, participating mothers were asked about co-sleeping, sleeping with objects (i.e. blanket, wedge, pillow), whether their infant was put to sleep on the side of stomach, or slept on an adult bed. The mean age of participating mothers was 26 years (SD 5.6 years). The majority of participants (91%) had received or applied for medical assistance, and 46% had some schooling experience beyond high school. Researchers found that mothers disclosed unsafe sleep practices more often to the research assistant (30%) than to the health educator (13%) or pediatrician (0%). Researchers attributed these differences in disclosures rates to the number and specificity of questions asked. In light of the persistently high rates of infant sleep-related deaths in this patient population, this points to a need for increased clinician education on sleep practices, as part of emphasizing sleep safety.
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