Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), usually a major cause of unexplained death during the first year of life of an otherwise healthy infant is possibly caused by bed-sharing, either by the mother or a caregiver. According to JAMA Pediatrics an online health web site, in a latest study funded by the National Institute Of Child Health and Human Development published online, co-sharing of bed between the infant and the mother or another caregiver, has increased since the 1990’s.
The statics show that black and Hispanic infants as compared to white infants are at the most risk. According to the study, the bed-sharing among the whites has also increased but it is far less than the other two ethnic communities. The actual figures, according to this latest research are, for the whites an increase from five percent to nine percent; among the Hispanics from thirteen percent to twenty one percent; and from twenty one percent to thirty nine percent among the blacks.
Although huge sums of money have been spent on by the government health agencies to create awareness among the parents, especially the mothers of newborns, that in order to facilitate breast feeding the infant, especially during the night, their cribs must be placed near the bed of the mother. But, bed-sharing between a mother and the infant or a caregiver must be avoided at all costs. These costly ad campaigns, it seems, have not been successful in conveying this very important information to the target audience, that is the expecting mothers or to those who have already given birth.
Though SIDS is not the only cause of death of infants but it is the most probable one. Other causes of death of an infant include smoking and drinking by the mother; the dangers of suffocation, when the mother rolls over the infant in sleep or the infant gets entangled in the bedding.
In view of these causes, the doctors advise the mother of a new born to use hard mattresses for the infant’s crib. The pediatric specialists also advise the new moms to develop the habit in their infants, early on in life, to sleep in the face down position, in order to minimize the risks of accidental death.
Economic disparity has been cited as a major reason in the increase in this trend of bed-sharing by the mothers or other caregivers. Poverty, it is held forces the single mothers or mothers in low income households to bed-share because of lack of space or other poverty related issues.
What ever the actual case, this latest government funded research has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that bed-sharing either by the mother or a caregiver and the infant, has increased from the 1990’s to 2013, which is alarming as successive governments have funneled millions of dollars in the health sector to improve the quality of life of its citizens and to educate them about important health related issues.
It is clear as the latest research shows that the efforts of the preceding and the present governments have failed, at least, as far as disseminating vital information about SIDS is concerned.
Written By: Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada