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First Candle campaign focuses on images of safe sleep

First Candle, a nonprofit advocacy organization, has launched a campaign encouraging the media and others to show examples of infants sleeping safely according to guidelines that were revised in 2011 after recommendations by First Candle and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

First Candle officials say many new parents turn to the Internet, print or broadcast media for information and advice on child care and parenting. However, according to the nonprofit, a recent study showed that one-third of the images in magazines targeting women of child-bearing age featured babies sleeping in unsafe positions and two-thirds showed babies sleeping in environments that are considered unsafe according to the guidelines.

"These statistics are alarming," said Kelly Mariotti, CEO of First Candle. "This tells us we need to do a better job of helping parents understand why safe sleep in important and what they need to do to protect their baby during sleep. When the visual messages conflict with what they are reading or being told, it reduces the validity of the message and can be confusing."

First Candle is asking campaign participants to sign a pledge that they will only show images featuring safe sleep practices such as:

• Babies sleeping or being placed to sleep on their backs.

• Babies sleeping alone without parents, other children or pets.

• Babies sleeping in cribs, bassinets or play yards that are free of bumpers, blankets, quilts, toys, etc.

The campaign asks media companies to avoid images showing babies sleeping on parents, in an adult bed, or on a sofa, chair or pillow. Cribs should also not be shown near windows, draperies or blinds. The pledge and full list of guidelines can be found here.

Participants who sign the pledge will become a First Candle Media Star and will recognized for their efforts, First Candle said.

"By working together, we can ensure that every baby is given the best possible chance to survive and thrive," Mariotti said.

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