Researchers discuss effects of mother-infant bedsharing

Recommendations by physician groups to avoid bedsharing among mothers and their babies are intended to reduce sleep-related infant deaths. But evidence suggests that the risks of bedsharing have been over-emphasized, advice never to bedshare is unrealistic, and avoiding bedsharing may interfere with breastfeeding, according to an article in Breastfeeding Medicine, the official journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Breastfeeding Medicine website at http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/bfm.2014.0113 until January 4, 2015.

In "Speaking Out on Safe Sleep: Evidence-Based Infant Sleep Recommendations, Melissa Bartick, MD, MSC, Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School (Cambridge, MA), and Linda Smith, MPH, IBCLC, Boonshoft School of Medicine, Wright State University (Dayton, OH), discuss the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) recommendations against all bedsharing for sleep, the leading modifiable risk factors for preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and the potential for the AAP's bedsharing recommendations to interfere with the frequency, duration, and exclusivity of breastfeeding.

"The alternatives to feeding an infant in bed, such as on a couch, lounge chair, or rocker are far greater risks for SIDS," says Ruth Lawrence, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Breastfeeding Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics, University of Rochester School of Medicine. "Bed-sharing increases the risk of SIDS when the infant is bottle fed or the mother is obese or impaired by smoking, alcohol, or illicit drugs. These are correctable risks of SIDS. Breastfeeding is protective, and the editors of Breastfeeding Medicine are pleased that the AAP Task Force on SIDS is strongly supporting breastfeeding."

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