Study renews co-sleeping debate
Put this in the category of super scary stuff: Infant suffocation and strangulation deaths have quadrupled since 1984, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For the record, the scientists behind the study, which was published in the February issue of Pediatrics, say they don't know why the sharp increase in strangulations and suffocation deaths occurred. They also don’t know why black male infants are the most likely of infants to die. Despite the lack of concrete reasons why infant suffocation deaths are surging, the study has renewed the debate about co-sleeping.
I wrote about co-sleeping several months ago and took quite a lashing from parents who share a bed with their infants. They highly recommended the practice and said it promotes a nurturing environment for babies and eases breastfeeding routines at night. Co-sleeping advocates also say there are techniques for co-sleeping that can ensure that the practice is safe for all. Duly noted.
This new study should not be wielded as a weapon to bash co-sleepers. Actually, Mommas on both sides should hold their fire. The data suggests there is more at stake than debating parenting practices. According to the study, the infants who died passed away in beds, cribs and on couches. As far as I can tell, that pretty much covers all places where infants usually sleep. So, we should all be on guard.
Let the study be a clarion call for increased safety precautions. Parents should abide by experts' suggestions about infant sleep rules. Some of the biggies: putting babies to sleep on their backs, removing loose bedding, comforters and plush toys from cribs and beds and not overheating babies.
There was one bit of good news in the study. Infant deaths attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome have dropped sharply. Credit the National Institutes of Health’s Back to Sleep Campaign for that.
-- Sherri Day