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Current recommendations on infants’ sleeping position are being followed—initial results of a population-based sentinel study on risk factors for SIDS, 1996–2006, in Hamburg, Germany

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Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is a target for public health care in Germany. The aim of this study was to monitor data on risk-related behavior in the population of Hamburg, Germany, in order to respond to changes quickly and to estimate the effectiveness of prevention activities. Data have been gathered using the sentinel system with repeated surveys (1996, 1998, 2001, and 2006) in pediatric practices, thus allowing an estimate of the prevalence of risk factors in an urban population, both transversally and vertically. From 1996 to 2007, the SIDS rate in Hamburg fell from 0.9/1,000 live births to 0.1. The prevalence of infants sleeping prone declined from 8.1% in 1996 to 3.5% in 2006. In this small subgroup, up to 81.7% (2006) of the caretakers were well aware of the risk of sleeping prone. The prevalence of infants sleeping on their sides fell from 55.3% in 1998 to 10.6% in 2006. The sentinel setting is suitable for gathering risk-related data on SIDS. Despite the fact that, so far, no nationwide back-to-sleep campaign has been instituted in Germany, local campaigns have proved successful in reducing prone sleeping for infants. Moreover, the substantial reduction of side sleeping within a short time span going along with a reduced SIDS rate is an indicator of the effectiveness of prevention activities on a local basis.

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The authors like to thank the Hamburg Alliance against SIDS for 14 years of excellent cooperation.

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Correspondence to Jan P. Sperhake.

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Sperhake, J.P., Zimmermann, I. & Püschel, K. Current recommendations on infants’ sleeping position are being followed—initial results of a population-based sentinel study on risk factors for SIDS, 1996–2006, in Hamburg, Germany. Int J Legal Med 123, 41–45 (2009).

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