Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) remains a threat to newborns, causing 3,500 deaths in 2014. A study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at the effectiveness of an education platform delivered in texts or emails to decrease the rate of SIDS.
The study examined methods of reducing SIDS by testing two interventions—one using nurses to deliver safe-sleep messages and practices, and another using mobile deliver of educational videos on sleep practices. Researchers from the University of Virginia Schools of Medicine and Nursing, Yale University School of Medicine and Boston University School of Medicine came together to test these interventions with 1,200 women from 16 U.S. hospitals over the course of 60 days by surveying behavior.
The mobile health applications utilized text messages and timed emails to provide mothers with a constant flow of safety information when they were most likely to face challenges in following safe-sleep practices.
"For instance, many parents worry about their baby choking when they're on the back. Therefore, we sent them a video showing them that this is not true," said Rachel Moon, MD, of the UVA School of Medicine. "A lot of parents can be overwhelmed when caring for a new baby, partly because they are not sure what to do or get different advice from different people. We think that the videos and support that we provided in the texts and emails helped to give parents the information that they needed when they needed it and also addressed common concerns many parents have."
Results showed that the mobile intervention, not the nursing intervention, was able to significantly reduce the risk of SIDS as well as improving safe sleep practices with infants at least 2 months of age. However, when the two interventions were paired together researchers reported the highest rate of adherence to sleep practices.
"We're hoping to expand this study to larger groups of mothers, particularly those who are higher risk, to better understand what types of messages work the best, and what the best timing is for these messages," said Fern Hauck, MD, of the UVA School of Medicine. "We think that this technology will allow us to provide parents with better information on how to keep their babies safe."