ORLEANS – The number of grandparent caregivers continues to grow, and while
these older adults may be experienced in caring for young children, many are
unaware of more recent safety and other recommendations – including those
related to appropriate child sleep position, crib safety, car seat and walker use,
according to research presented Oct. 21 at the American Academy of Pediatrics
(AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.
to the 2011 American Community Survey, an estimated 2.7 million grandparents
are the primary caregivers to their grandchildren – a 12.5 percent
increase since the year 2000. In the study, “Grandparent Caregiver Knowledge of
Anticipatory Guidance Topics,” researchers attended regularly scheduled
Grandparent/Kinship Care support groups. Forty-nine participants completed a
15-question survey that addressed common pediatric safety and anticipatory
guidance topics for children of all ages.
asked, “What is the best position for a baby to sleep in?” 33 percent of
respondents chose “on the stomach;” 23 percent, “on the side;” and 43.8
percent, “the back.” The AAP recommends that infants be placed to sleep on
their backs to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). When asked about
correct car seat positioning, 24.5 percent responded that a 22 pound, 9 month-old
child should be facing forward, and yet the AAP recommends that children remain
in a rear-facing car seat until age 2.
year, the AAP recommended that bumpers, stuffed animals and blankets be removed
from infant cribs, and yet 49 percent of grandparent caregivers thought these
items were acceptable. Nearly 74 percent respondents stated that a walker is a
good device to help babies learn to walk. The AAP does not recommend walker
use, and in fact urges caregivers to dispose of them because of serious safety
health and safety recommendations are constantly evolving,” said study author
Kathryn C. Hines, MD, a University of Alabama at Birmingham physician who sees
patients at Children’s of Alabama. “Many
recommendations are likely to have changed since these grandparent caregivers
parented their own children.”
"Discussion of health
and safety recommendations is an essential part of routine well-child care, and
pediatricians must recognize knowledge deficits that may exist in grandparent
caregivers and be comfortable addressing these deficits," said primary
study author Amanda Soong, MD, FAAP, also of UAB.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary
care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical
specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants,
children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.