Physicians know the advice they give carries weight. Now a scientific study backs them up. When doctors advise new parents against sharing a bed with their newborn baby, parents listen — in significant numbers.

Research has shown that one key way to reduce the risk of infant deaths is to keep babies from sharing a bed with a caregiver or parent. A 2013 study showed an association between physician advice and adherence to safe sleep recommendations (

Colson
ER
, et al
JAMA Pediatr
.
2013
;
167
:
1032
-1037
). The researchers examined data from the National Infant Sleep Position Study, an annual, cross-sectional study designed to track infant-care practices. Infant caregivers were asked, “Has a doctor ever talked with you about your baby sleeping in a bed with another person?”

More than half of study participants reported they did not get any advice from a physician regarding...

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