Improving infant sleep safety via electronic health record communication: A randomized controlled trial

Ethan A. Canty, Benjamin N. Fogel, Erich K. Batra, Eric W. Schaefer, Jessica S. Beiler, Ian M. Paul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: With increased use of telehealth, interventions to improve infant sleep environments have not been explored. This study sought to assess the feasibility and efficacy of using electronic health record patient portals to transmit photographs of infant sleep between mothers and healthcare professionals as part of an intervention to promote sleep environments consistent with AAP guidelines. Methods: One hundred eighty-four mother-newborn dyads consented to participate in a randomized trial requiring patient portal registration within 1 month of delivery. We first assessed feasibility as measured by a) the proportion of consented mothers enrolling in the portal and b) maternal adherence to prompts to submit photographs of their infant sleeping to the research team through the patient portal. Intervention group mothers were prompted at 1 and 2 months; controls were prompted only at 2 months. Efficacy was determined via research assistant review of submitted photographs. These assistants were trained to detect sudden unexplained infant death risk factors utilizing AAP guidelines. Standardized feedback was returned to mothers through the patient portal. We used Fisher's Exact test to assess group differences in guideline adherence at 2 months. Results: One hundred nine mothers (59%) enrolled in the patient portal and were randomized to intervention (N = 55) and control (N = 54) groups. 21 (38, 95% CI 25-52%) intervention group participants sent photographs at 1 month and received personalized feedback. Across both groups at 2 months, 40 (37, 95% CI 28-46%) sent photographs; 56% of intervention group participants who submitted photographs met all safe sleep criteria compared with 46% of controls (difference 0.10, 95% CI - 0.26 to 0.46, p =.75). Common reasons for guideline non-adherence were sleeping in a room without a caregiver (43%), loose bedding (15%) and objects (8%) on the sleep surface. Conclusions: Utilizing the patient portal to individualize safe infant sleep is possible, however, we encountered numerous barriers in this trial to assess its effects on promoting safe infant sleep. Photographs of infants sleeping showed substantial non-adherence to AAP guidelines, suggesting further needs for improvement to promote safe infant sleep practices. Trial registration: Name: Improving Infant Sleep Safety With the Electronic Health Record; NCT03662048; Date of Registration: September 7, 2018; Data Sharing Statement: None.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number468
JournalBMC pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 8 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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