Answer: It's confusing when a new mom gets all kinds of information from different sources. It's somewhat of a parenting hazard. I'm going to disagree with your GP in that bed-sharing doesn't increase the risk of SIDS. In fact, studies have shown that bed-sharing helps to regulate babies' breathing cycle because they pick up and imitate their mothers' breathing cycle. The tragic incidence of SIDS can happen anywhere and anytime—not just while cosleeping. There is still no known cause, although some risk factors have been identified. Perhaps your GP is more concerned about suffocation, which is different from SIDS but indistinguishable in an autopsy. There have been many studies recently in Canada about suffocation from bed-sharers but not much news has focussed on the proportion of babies that have suffocated in cribs. I urge you to look at the logistics of the studies you come across. How many babies were studied? What proportion was in a crib versus bed-sharing? What kinds of surfaces were involved in the cosleeping environment? What were the circumstances of the parent's health at the time of death? Who sponsored the study? Many factors contribute to suffocation and there are many ways to reduce the risk. I have an article called "Co-sleeping" at the Attachment Parenting Canada website (www.attachmentparenting.ca) that lists risk factors and how to make cosleeping safer. Dr. James McKenna is a leading researcher in the field of bed-sharing and has quite a few studies quoted on the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at University of Notre Dame website: http://www.nd.edu/~jmckenn1/lab/media.html The more important point here is that no professional should tell you what to do. All they can do is give you information and their recommendations and leave the decision-making up to you. You know your situation and risk factors the best and are in the best position to decide what is right for you, your baby, and your family.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Ask the Experts: CoSleeping & SIDS
by Judy Arnall
Attachment Parenting, Non-punitive Discipline Education, Homeschooling Mom
Question: My general practitioner, bless his heart, is trying to convince me that sleeping with my five-month-old son is dangerous and increases the risk of SIDS. Although I have no intention of changing our sleeping arrangement, I would like to have some references to give him the next time we meet. His reference comes from what he claims to be the most recent study, which, apparently, was sent to physicians by the surgeon general. I'm in Canada, which may or may not be relevant as I'm not sure where the study took place.