Pediatrician echoes advice against sleeping with babies

Jim Day
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Dr. David Wong and Chief Coroner Dr. Charles Trainor have both come out against the practice of parents sleeping with babies

Dr. David Wong

A Summerside pediatrician says he is not comfortable with parents sharing their bed with any young child, let alone an infant.

Dr. David Wong says he knows some parents ignore his advice when he urges against co-sleeping with infants and babies.

“They just look at me and wrinkle their noses,’’ he says.

“Definitely I know there are some people who promote bed sharing and there are some cultures that it is a norm.’’

However, Wong does not believe the practice is very common in P.E.I.

“Not having a baby in bed (with parents) is a much better way,’’ he says.

The issue of co-sleeping with babies made the news recently, though, when P.E.I. Chief Coroner Dr. Charles Trainor urged parents in a statement to avoid the practice.

Trainor cautioned that bed sharing where the infant is in bed with the adults is a very dangerous practice. He issued the warning in his coroner’s report that ruled the death of a baby boy in November was the result of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).

The six-month-old boy was in bed with his parents. The parents awoke around 3 a.m. on Nov. 15 in their Kensington home and found the infant unresponsive. The baby was rushed to the Prince County Hospital where he could not be resuscitated.

Wong endorses the messages that are conveyed by the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative in a paper on the link between bed-sharing and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

UNICEF concludes that the current body of evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the safest place for a baby to sleep is in a cot and not in a bed with others. Also, sleeping with a baby on a sofa puts the baby at the greatest risk, the group stresses.

The study also determines that a baby should not share a bed with anyone who is a smoker, has consumed alcohol and/or have taken drugs (legal or illegal) that make them sleepy.

According to the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative, the incidents of SIDS is higher in the following groups:

• Parents in low socio-economic groups;

• Parents who currently abuse alcohol or drugs;

• Young mothers with more than one child;

• Premature infants and those with low birthweight.

“We have a SIDS/SUDI death every one to two years in the province,’’ Trainor said in his coroner’s statement earlier this month.

“These deaths are very tragic to the families and to society. Removing all risk factors will lower the rate of SIDS/SIDU in our province.’’

Organizations: UNICEF, Prince County Hospital

Geographic location: Summerside, P.E.I., Kensington

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Recent comments

  • PEI
    January 31, 2014 - 14:12

    I came across a site with peer reviewed research weighing in on the issue. It is very informative and a must read for parents who would like to know more on the issue. http://www.parentingscience.com/bed-sharing.html

  • PEI
    January 31, 2014 - 14:10

    I came across a site with peer reviewed research weighing in on the issue. It is very informative and a must read for parents who would like to know more on the issue. http://www.parentingscience.com/bed-sharing.html

  • how it is...
    January 29, 2014 - 15:51

    "I'll prescribe your infant a puffer." - Dr. Wong

  • Tracey
    January 29, 2014 - 14:36

    Yes Drs. co-sleepingand bed sharing are the norm in many culture and these cultures happen to have among the lowet rates of SIDs worldwide. Emphasis on the higer risk groups. I night slept with my dughter in my bed with me until she was four months old but she generally napped in a playpen or her crib so was always used to her crib. Use common sense, keep blankets and pillow away from baby, ensure that the bed is large enough to give everyone space and that once the baby strts to roll over easily, that there is nothign around (blankets pillows etc) that could suffocate the baby or that the mattressisn't overly soft to suffocate easily. How many of the SIDS cases in PEI are related to cosleeping or bed sharing. Sounds like from the report a grand total of one. Fear mongering and nothing but. Parent need information but need to be able to make infomred choices that are best for the parents, the children and the family unit. Too much judgment goes along with this parenting thing. For the most part we're all good parents tryign to do the best that we can to raise happy, healthy children. Let's judge a bit less and help each other.

  • sandman
    January 29, 2014 - 11:47

    Its funny, we know many people who have their babies sleep with them in bed; same thing is always true for these parents; the baby is up more often through the night and becomes dependent in coming to bed with their parents. I think both parent and child become deprived from sleep in this case. Although it is sometimes hard (parents can be lazy), we always bring our kids back to their bed and both of our children are great sleepers because of it! Besides it being a danger for SIDS, I think it has some affect on good sleep habits for children as well.

  • sandman
    January 29, 2014 - 11:45

    Its funny, we know many people who have their babies sleep with them in bed; same thing is always true for these parents; the baby is up more often through the night and becomes dependent in coming to bed with their parents. I think both parent and child become deprived from sleep in this case. Although it is sometimes hard (parents can be lazy), we always bring our kids back to their bed and both of our children are great sleepers because of it! Besides it being a danger for SIDS, I think it has some affect on good sleep habits for children as well.

  • Vivian G
    January 29, 2014 - 11:29

    Co-sleeping and bed sharing are 2 different things. I can see how readers are confused by this as Jim Day used the terms interchangeably. Co-sleeping is having the baby sleep in the same room as the parent(s). Bed sharing is having the baby sleep in the same bed as the parent(s). Parents are faced with many choices and decisions when it comes to raising a child and doing what is right/recommended for the baby. We don't need uneducated journalists confusing the matters.

  • Father
    January 29, 2014 - 10:58

    He's also the Doctor that says every baby has asthma. Went to outpaitents with my little one 4yrs ago that was soo stuffed up he had trouble breathing...and he went on and on and on about how he had asthma. Really?

  • candrayo
    January 29, 2014 - 10:44

    Well it is interesting that this strong advisory is coming from men. But in essence, it is just an opinion or two from just another person or two, like you or me, it seems they just happen to believe themselves to be experts enough to speak so publicly about the matter. I respectfully agree to disagree on the subject. Doctors are not the end all be all subject matter experts any longer in my opinion. Doctors are wonderful humans, but there word should not automatically be assumed to be the only correct option!

    • Frank
      January 29, 2014 - 13:55

      These men are not giving their opinions, they are informing the public of the overwhelming evidence that concludes that sleeping with an infant puts the life of the infant at risk.

  • mother of 3
    January 29, 2014 - 09:28

    Raised all 3 of my children sharing my bed at one point or another,,, however I NEVER put the child in the middle of the bed! between us. I always put a chair with a pillow against the bed and cradled whichever baby was with me in my arm and knew at all times where he was to me. That is the only safe way to know where that baby is,,, once they are big enough to roll over and back and sit up then you don't need to be as cautious, but until that time it is the ONLY safe way to share your bed with a baby!! It's like walkers for children, they got rid of them here, why? because parents couldn't use enough common sense in looking after their child, it was never a babysitter,,, common sense at all points must be used when caring for a baby!

  • Jon Dealney
    January 29, 2014 - 08:51

    I would strongly encourage all current and prospective parents of young children to consider this issue carefully. The opinions of Drs. Wong and Trainor are far from universally accepted. The risk factors involved with co-sleeping are miniscule and are greatly outweighed by the advantages to both parent and child. Co-sleeping facilitates longer and easier breastfeeding and creates a stronger bond between mother and infant. There are also many studies which show that being alongside Mom is the safest place for a newborn as she will instinctively react to any changes in the baby's breathing without fulling waking herself. The increased medicalisation of the childbirth and child-rearing process by well meaning but shortsighted medical practitioners does little to enhance the health of mother and child. Please note that rates of SIDS are lowest in societies where co-sleeping is the norm. For a different and more balanced perspective on co-sleeping and its benefits and dangers read anything by Dr. Sears. It is of course an absolute tragedy when any infant dies but to use such a tragedy to push misguided advice on the avoidance of a safe, natural and normal child raising practice is regrettable.