MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Fern R. Hauck, MD, MS
Spencer P. Bass, MD Twenty-First Century Professor of Family Medicine
Director, International Family Medicine Clinic
Department of Family Medicine
University of Virginia, PO Box 800729
Charlottesville, VA 22908-072
Co-author of “14 Ways to Protect Your Baby from SIDS”
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Hauck: We looked at data from the Infant Feeding Practices Study II, which followed mother from pregnancy through the first year of infant life. Mothers received several surveys that asked about infant feeding and bedsharing (sleeping with their infant in the same bed or other sleep surface). We found that mothers who bedshared for the longest time had the longest duration of breastfeeding compared with mothers who did not bedshare or bedshared for shorter times. Breastfeeding duration was also longer among mothers who were better educated, were white, had previously breastfed another child, had planned to breastfeed this baby, and had not returned to work in the first year after the baby was born.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. Hauck: No, we hypothesized that these would be the findings.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Hauck: Several organizations that promote breastfeeding also promote bedsharing as a way to facilitate breastfeeding. On the other hand, the American Academy of Pediatrics, several US governmental agencies including the NIH, and many others recommend against bedsharing due to the known risk of sudden infant death syndrome and accidental suffocations in bed associated with bedsharing. The risk of these deaths is increased even among infants who are breastfeeding. So, it is important for clinicians and families to know that there are hazards associated with bedsharing, even though we see this association between bedsharing and breastfeeding. Women who are committed to breastfeeding can be successful without sleeping with their babies. So our recommendation is identical to that of the American Academy of Pediatrics—have your baby sleep close to you in your room, but in a separate crib or bassinet.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Hauck: I would very much like to see more research to evaluate the recommendation to room share without bedsharing. Is breastfeeding duration increased in this scenario also? Are there barriers to following this advice? How can we make it easier for mothers to breastfeed but not bedshare? What are other things that can be done to promote breastfeeding among all mothers and infants? These questions need to be answered.