According to Dr. Melissa Bartick, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, the strong stance against infant co-sleeping/bed-sharing previously taken by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control may have actually caused more infant injuries and deaths. As a result, the American Academy of Pediatrics is currently reviewing its safe-sleep recommendations.
Dr. Bartick notes the problems with the original recommendations.
the AAP’s statement from which it comes is based on just four papers. Two of the studies are misrepresented, and actually show little or no risk of sharing a bed when parents do not smoke, and two of the studies do not collect data on maternal alcohol use, a known and powerful risk factor.
She goes on to note the increased risk to infants that the warnings have caused. Specifically, when parents don’t bring babies to bed, they tend to sit up with them and feed them on a sofa or in a chair which carries with it a very high risk of injury or death as babies get stuck in sofa cushions or dropped on the floor by sleepy parents. She also notes that discouraging bed-sharing has also had the inadvertent effect of making extended nursing more difficult which carries with it an increased risk of SIDS and other health problems. READ HER ANALYSIS HERE
Because of all this, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now revising its safe sleep recommendations. Hopefully, the US pediatric organization will follow the example of the international medical community which offers not politically motivated, unsupportable blanket condemnations, but empirically-based, responsible guidance for safe co-sleeping practices.
For more information on healthy approaches to infant sleep (and parental sanity!) check out Parenting with Grace: The Catholic Parents’ Guide to Raising (Almost) Perfect Kids, and Then Comes Baby: The Catholic Guide to the First Three Years of Parenthood.