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Issues Surrounding Cosleeping and SIDS Risk

Victoria Fisher
Glendale AZ USA
Report from 2001 LLLI Conference
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 18 No. 5, September-October 2001, p. 175

James McKenna, PhD, and Lawrence Gartner, MD, spoke on "Issues Surrounding Cosleeping and SIDS Risk." The talk covered a huge amount of material and explained different recent studies on the subject.

McKenna discussed the US Consumer Product Safety Commissions's (CPSC) recommendation that parents never sleep with their children. The CPSC report made headlines in newspapers and on television stations across the United States when it was released three years ago. McKenna explained how the commission's data was obtained and how this influenced its conclusions. The CPSC's conclusion that cosleeping is dangerous to infants was drawn from summations of information from death certificates, many of which provided insufficient information about the environment in which the baby died and possible causes.

McKenna pointed out that the commission did not account for where the cosleeping took place (some of the deaths occurred when adults and infants were sleeping on couches), or whether the parent was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. McKenna said that proper research techniques were not used to gather data to support the recommendation that the only safe place for a baby to sleep was in a CPSC-approved crib.

Gartner and Lawrence agreed that sleeping with infants promotes breastfeeding. They both said it is inappropriate for agencies to recommend against cosleeping.

The session blended information and humor. The audience was surprisingly alert and lively even though this session took place at the end of a hectic day, possibly because this topic was of such intense interest.

Last updated Friday, September 29, 2006 by njb.
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