Indian-Americans have fewer sudden infant deaths, Rutgers study finds
Indian-Americans have the highest percentage of sleeping with their babies among ethnic groups in New Jersey but the lowest rate of sudden unexpected infant death (SUID), a Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences study shows.
Researchers attributed this paradoxical finding to a variety of compensatory factors, including Indian-Americans' practice of placing their infants on their backs to sleep.
The study appears in the journal New Jersey Pediatrics.
"Conditions that substantially increase the risk of SUID while bed-sharing include smoking, alcohol use and maternal fatigue," said lead author Barbara Ostfeld, a professor of pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. "Indian-Americans smoke and use alcohol less than other populations. In addition, grandparents tend to be very active in childcare, which reduces maternal fatigue. Apart from bed-sharing, poverty also increases the risk of SUID, and Indian-Americans have higher incomes."
The American Academy of Pediatrics considers bed-sharing to be a high risk factor in SUID, which includes sudden infant death syndrome, accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, and ill-defined and unknown causes in children under one year old.
<p>"There is strong clinical information on the risks associated with bed-sharing," Ostfeld said. "Our intent was to discover more about this little-researched demographic breakdown, so we can better understand the risk factors for SUID in all groups and create culturally sensitive health messaging."</p> <p>The researchers looked at the mortality rates of 83,000 New Jersey-born infants of Asian-Indian heritage over a 15-year period and safe sleep practices in a sampling of this population. Results showed that 97 percent of the surveyed American-born mothers of Asian-Indian heritage reported using a crib, compared to 69 percent of those who were foreign-born.</p> <p>Although infants of the foreign-born mothers now residing in the United States had a higher SUID rate compared to infants of U.S.-born mothers of Asian-Indian heritage, for whom no SUID was recorded, the rate was still lower than that of other populations: From 2000 to 2015, infants of foreign-born mothers of Asian-Indian heritage had a SUID rate of 0.14 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 0.4 in white, 0.5 in Hispanic and 1.6 in black populations.</p> <p>"Our study shows that improved compliance with American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines on supine sleep and avoiding bed-sharing is associated with a lower rate of SUID even in already low-risk groups," said Ostfeld. "Larger studies are needed to better understand the complex variables that affect risk in sharing a bed with an infant." </p> <p>###</p> <p><strong>Media Contact</strong></p> <p>Patti Verbanas<br />[email protected]<br />848-932-0551<br /> @RutgersU