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Cosleeping Has Become More Common

Summary and Comment |
October 21, 2013

Cosleeping Has Become More Common

  1. Cornelius W. Van Niel, MD

The rate of infant bed sharing has doubled since 1993.

  1. Cornelius W. Van Niel, MD

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends against bed sharing for infants (JW Pediatr Adolesc Med Nov 16 2011). The National Infant Sleep Position Study conducted telephone surveys with caregivers of >1000 infants (median age, 4 months) each year since the start of the 1993 back-to-sleep campaign aimed at decreasing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Caregivers were predominantly white (83%), older, and more educated than the general population.

Trends in Infant Bed Sharing as a Usual Practice.

Data depict 3-year moving average values for black, Hispanic, and white participants.

Credit: JAMA Pediatrics. Copyright © (2013) American Medical Association. All rights reserved.

The percentage of infants who usually shared a bed increased from 6.5% in 1993 to 13.5% in 2010. The increasing trend was significant in white, black, and Hispanic groups throughout the 18 study years. Adjusted odds ratios for bed sharing were significantly elevated in black versus white infants (3.47), Hispanic versus white infants (1.33), young (<8 weeks) versus older (≥16 weeks) infants (1.45), preterm versus term infants (1.41), infants in households with income <$20,000 versus ≥$50,000 (1.69), and infants whose mothers did not complete high school versus those who completed college (1.42). Receipt of physician advice on bed sharing was reported by 46% of caregivers. Compared with those receiving no advice, caregivers receiving advice discouraging bed sharing were 34% less likely, and caregivers receiving neutral advice were 38% more likely, to cosleep with their infants.

Comment

Despite guidelines to the contrary, cosleeping is on the rise, especially in black infants (39% in 2010), who have a higher incidence of SIDS than infants of other races/ethnicities. An editorialist notes the advantages of this often culturally important practice, and highlights controversy regarding the evidence linking cosleeping and SIDS. Families in my practice are going to cosleep for cultural reasons, and I focus my efforts on getting them to do it as safely as possible.

  • Disclosures for Cornelius W. Van Niel, MD at time of publication Equity Covidien; Express Scripts; Johnson & Johnson; Merck

Citation(s):

Reader Comments (1)

Violeta Iotova, MD, PhD, DSc Physician, Pediatric Subspecialty, University Hospital "Sveta MArina", Varna, Bulgaria

Dear colleagues,
Thank you for paying attention to a matter that is bothering me for a certain period of time. I always ask parent for co-sleeping. This tendency is present not only in infants but up to 5-7 year old children. This practice leads to prolonged usage of diapers. Most of the times, children would sleep between parents. For me, this has to do with the generally changing attitude towards the up-bringing of children - more as friends, than as children. I have 25 years of pediatric practice, and I am also a mother to 2 grown-up children. To my view, it is completely unfair to youngsters to overload them with responsibilities, decision-making and all variety of other activities typical for adults! Pediatricians try on an individual basis to influence parents' conduct, but the time has come to use more powerful tools for that. Something that we considered so natural as parenting, needs now an approach and advertising - the faster, the better.
With best regards,
Violeta Iotova
Pediatric Endocrinologist

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