As many parents have written me lately regarding the disresepctful manner so called "safe to sleep" messages are being promoted in various commnities I thought it would be useful to recommend reading two articles, one of which was published with Dr. Lee Gettler, the other with Drs. Helen Ball and Lane Volpe:
Nighttime Parenting Strategies and Sleep-Related Risks to Infants, by Lane E. Volpe, Helen L. Ball, and James J. McKenna. Social Science and Medicine 79 (2013) 92-103.
Never Sleep with Baby? Or Keep Me Close But Keep Me Safe: Eliminating Inappropriate "Safe Infant Sleep" Rhetoric in the United States, by Lee T. Gettler and James J. McKenna. Current Pediatric Reviews 6:1, 1-6. 2010.
A note of appreciation
As an added note, I am pleased to acknowledge the statement of appreciation of my SIDS and infant sleep research and advocacy for good sciecne, as expressed below by Dr. Brad Gessner, a well respected SIDS researcher from the state of Alaska.
Dear Dr. McKenna,
As a pediatrician and former SIDS researcher, I agree with your summary. After more than a decade (ending in 2011) of working with the Alaska Division of Public Health tracking local SIDS and sleep-related death cases, we were unable to find evidence that co-sleeping increased the risk of death when controlling for other factors. In fact, if one considered just three factors (maternal education, maternal prenatal alcohol or tobacco, and marital status) one could predict to a high degree postneonatal mortality: children born to unmarried women with lower education and evidence of prenatal drug use had a postneonatal mortality of about 30 per 1000 live births (similar to Ivory Coast); children born to women with none of these risk factors had a postneonatal mortality of about 2 per 1000 live births (similar to Norway); that is, children in this latter category almost never die despite evidence from PRAMS surveys that they are as likely to co-sleep with their parents.
Kudos to you for continuing to defend the role of science in this debate.
Brad Gessner, MD