A new study goes even farther to increase the statistics of infant deaths caused by co-sleeping claiming there are many “unreported sleep deaths” that are simply called something else. The author even goes so far as to stereotype all co-sleeping parents as obese drug users who are lucky their babies don’t die.
The LA Times reports:
Nurse Jennifer Combs reviewed a sample of 45 baby deaths from 2009 and found a half dozen that were sleep-related but had been called something else. Added to nine already identified, that made 15 babies dead from unsafe sleep – or one in three. The standard estimate has been one in five.
Babies had been smothered by pillows, blankets or soft items while asleep in adult beds or their cribs, or by adults rolling on top of them. Babies also died after being put to sleep on their stomachs, which raises the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. This happened in families from all walks of life, she said.
What I find irksome is the reporting of Combs’ research overemphasizing the family bed over the other unsafe practices that occur in a crib. The tagline in the LA Times reads,
“Sharing adults’ bed and other unsafe sleep habits pose greater risks than most realize.”
Why only mention one specific sleep practice and be ambiguous about the others?
Combs is using this information to try and educate parents. I have no problem with that, as long as the education includes safe co-sleeping practices. Somehow I doubt that will occur when the only specific case of infant death reported in the LA Times is extreme:
In one case, a Sunrise father, 30, is serving 25 months in state prison for manslaughter for rolling on top of his 7-month-old daughter and smothering her in his bed in 2009, after an all-night session of video games and marijuana.
Of course, any infant death is tragic. It’s beyond comprehension for me, and yes, parents need to be educated. Parents need to be informed of safe practices, no matter whether they chose the family bed or the crib or a combination of both. They do not need to be scared of c0-sleeping by the media. They need to be supported in their choices.
The risks of co-sleeping decline if the mother is breastfeeding, sober, not a smoker and sleeps with the baby on a flat, safe surface free of soft items, said Linda Smith, a founder of the International Lactation Consultant Association. Also, some babies wail if put down alone in a crib, leading frustrated parents to give in and co-sleep.
“We know breastfeeding moms are going to sleep with their babies, no matter what we tell them. We have to tell them the safest way to do it,” Smith said.
Unfortunately, this message is being lost in Broward County, where Combs is doing her work.
Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies in Broward has a program for women called Mahogany and one for men that persuaded Lauderdale Lakes restaurant worker Caymen Francois, 24, to stop sleeping beside his son, Christian, now 1. The boy’s mother, Demetria Eluett, eventually made the change, too.
“I had no idea it was putting Christian at risk,” Francois said. “Sometimes it’s the only way the child will sleep, right up against the mother. But we have to break them of that habit.”
There’s no real balance of reporting here when the article concludes:
“You may have slept with your baby and it was fine, but you were lucky,” Combs said. “Things are different now. Parents are obese, they use [sleeping pills], they use drugs. Back then, we didn’t have pillow-top beds, tons of pillows and blankets. Co-sleeping is just not safe. We have too many risks.”
I am not obese; I do not use drugs or sleeping pills; I do not use tons of pillows or blankets when I co-sleep. I am not lucky. I am informed. I am an attachment parent.