In a medical volte face, pediatricians in New Zealand are now saying that you can reduce the risk of your child dying from cot death or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) if he sleeps in the same room as you.
This group contains members from another working party which stated, back in 1991, that sleeping with your baby was dangerous. Their conclusion, which had tremendous ramifications throughout the Western world, was based on the discovery that SIDS was common among the Maoris who slept with their babies. They singled out co-sleeping as the cause of SIDS among the Maoris, without looking at other factors, including drug taking, alcoholism and smoking.
Now they have started to put the record straight, but have yet to go the whole way and state that it is preferable to co-sleep, even though there is overwhelming evidence from Asian communities that co-sleeping can eradicate cot death.
The new study, prepared by the University of Auckland, concludes that having the baby sleep on its back in a cot in the same room as the parents is adequate to greatly reduce the risks of SIDS. Room-sharing should continue for the first six months of the baby's life and past the age of highest risk of SIDS, the researchers recommend.
The researchers suggest that their policy could prevent a quarter of all SIDS deaths. Other possible causes have been linked to maternal smoking, swaddling, illness in the baby, environmental temperature, overheating and season (The Lancet, January 6, 1996).