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Transitioning Premature Infants Supine: State of the Science

McMullen, Sherri L. PhD, RN, NNP-BC

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: January/February 2013 - Volume 38 - Issue 1 - p 8–12
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e318263781e
Feature: CE Connection

Safe infant sleep has been the focus of two decades of research. Improving supine sleep position in infants has coincided with a reduction in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Premature infants spend time prone while hospitalized to promote appropriate growth and development; however, after hospitalization, infants should be positioned supine to reduce the risk of SIDS. Research has not been conducted on the optimal timing of transitioning the premature infant supine prior to hospital discharge. Infants transitioned too early are at risk for developmental delays, and infants not transitioned prior to discharge are at risk for being positioned in a nonsupine position, thereby increasing the risk of SIDS. Parents can observe appropriate role modeling of their infant while hospitalized and potentially improve the rate of supine sleep after discharge to reduce the risk of SIDS. This review explores the current literature on transitioning the premature infant to the supine position prior to hospital discharge to improve evidence-based practice and potentially further reducing the SIDS rate.

What is the evidence for transitioning the premature infant to the supine position prior to hospital discharge?

Sherri L. McMullen is a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner at St.Joseph's Hospital, Syracuse, NY. She can be reached via e-mail at

The authors and planners declare no conflict of interest related to this article.

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© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.