Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Milwaukee Ad States Dangers of CoSleeping

In a recent ad campaign in Milwaukee that shows two individual posters of babies (one white, one black) lying bed next to a large knife stating that “YOUR BABY SLEEPING NEXT TO YOU CAN BE JUST AS DANGEROUS. The second leading cause of infant mortality in Milwaukee is SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) which is often the result of unsafe sleep. The Department of Health’s website reports that unsafe sleep includes co-sleeping or sharing the bed with their parents.

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The Journal Sentinel said Milwaukee has an infant mortality crisis and that 30 developed and under developed countries have better infant death rates. In 2009, Milwaukee’s infant mortality rate was 10.4 deaths for every 1000 live births and the racial breakdown, was 5.4 for whites and 14.1 for blacks, according to the city’s health department. The city has set a goal to reduce the infant mortality rate for blacks by 15% and the overall rate by 10% by the year of 2017.

Comments from pro co-sleeping parents have had negative response to the ads stating that sleeping with children if done safely can be harmless, even beneficial according to Ask Dr. Sears.com, a parenting website. Milwaukee ran a similar ad a year and a half ago and received a positive result as parents called the Health Department to receive a free Pack ‘N Play. The Mayor, Tom Barrett said he will take the heat for the ads because some zip codes in Milwaukee have infant mortality rates higher than Third World countries and that’s unacceptable. He continued to state that if the ads make people uncomfortable, it will be a lot less uncomfortable than having a baby die next to them from co-sleeping, a cause of death that is so preventable.

[caption id="attachment_1649" align="alignright" width="277" caption="Co-Sleeping Good or Bad for Children?"][/caption]

What do you think? Dr. Sears has written two books on the subject, The Baby Sleep Book and SIDS: A Parent's Guide to Understanding and Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. He and his wife have co-slept with every one of their eight babies and he has advocated the practice throughout his 35 years of being a pediatrician. He’s come to the conclusion that co-sleeping, if practiced wisely and safely, can actually lower the risk of SIDS, and here's why:

Co-sleeping helps your baby rouse himself: New research has shown that in most cases, SIDS is caused by a baby's inability to arouse himself from sleep. Normally, when something occurs that threatens your baby's wellbeing, such as difficulty breathing, he will automatically wake up. For reasons that are still unknown, in some babies, this protective mechanism does not go off, and so these babies are more at risk for SIDS.

This is where the positive aspects of co-sleeping come in. Dr. James McKenna, director of the Mother-Baby Sleep Laboratory and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, has conducted numerous studies of mothers and babies who were co-sleeping and night nursing. His group of researchers found that mom and baby share similar patterns of sleep arousals, what we call "nighttime harmony." They drifted in and out of sleep stages in a similar, but not always identical, pattern. Some SIDS researchers believe that this is a factor in baby's protective arousal mechanism. This harmony may also be related to a psychological synchronicity between co-sleeping mothers and their babies: The co-sleeping mom is more likely to subconsciously sense if her baby's health is in danger and wake up.

Researchers also believe that the carbon dioxide you exhale when you sleep close to your baby may help stimulate her breathing. Plus, co-sleeping infants tend to automatically sleep on their back, in order to have easier access to nighttime feedings. Back sleeping has proved to be one of the top risk-reducers for SIDS. Meanwhile, babies who sleep separately from their moms have been shown to experience a decrease in the amount of REM sleep, the state of sleep in which protective arousal is the most likely to occur.

Co-sleeping is a common practice worldwide: The rate of SIDS is lowest in cultures that traditionally share sleep, such as Asian. While there could be many other factors contributing to the lower incidence of SIDS in these cultures, all the population studies I've seen have come to the same conclusion: Safe co-sleeping lowers the SIDS risk.

Co-sleeping warnings are based on imprecise science: I began my pediatric career in academic medicine and teaching in university hospitals. At that time, I learned an important lesson about scientific research: When the conclusions of a scientific study and common sense don't match, suspect faulty science. Both Dr. McKenna's writings and my two books mentioned above contain information that proves the original studies that triggered the "alarm" about co-sleeping were flawed.

In addition, scientists have yet to come to a universal agreement on the definition of co-sleeping. I've always considered co-sleeping to mean bed-sharing or sleeping within arm's reach of mother; however, it can also be defined as simply being close to mom or sleeping in the parents' bedroom. No matter your interpretation, you will find general agreement among all SIDS researchers, pediatricians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics that sleeping in the same room with parents lowers the risk of SIDS.

Co-sleeping is as safe as the conditions you practice: For obvious reasons, parents under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medications that interfere with normal sleep patterns should never have their baby in their bed. Other safeguards to employ:

• Sleep in a king-size bed if possible, to give everybody enough room.

• Be sure there are no wide crevices between the mattress and the guardrail or headboard that your baby's head could sink into.

• Never allow infants to sleep in the same bed with siblings or caregivers - they may not have the same awareness of a baby's presence that parents do.

• Don't fall asleep with your baby on a surface that isn't firm, such as a couch or a beanbag chair; she could suffocate by getting wedged between the cushions.

Many parents have resolved co-sleeping worries by using a bedside co-sleeper: a crib-like bed that attaches securely to the side of your mattress. This allows you to have your own sleeping space on your bed, while your baby sleeps within arm's reach for easy nursing and comforting.

References: askdrsears.com and abcnews.go.com

The content provided in Milwaukee Ad State Danger of Co-Sleeping is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.

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