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New Findings on Mother-Infant Room Sharing In Light of the New Safe Sleep Guidelines :

June 5, 2017

With the release of the new safe sleep guidelines last fall, there has been a lot of controversy regarding the recommendation that mothers keep their infants in the same room with them until their infants turn a year of age (just not in the same bed to sleep). Is this recommendation in the best interest of a baby’s sleep behaviors?

With the release of the new safe sleep guidelines last fall, there has been a lot of controversy regarding the recommendation that mothers keep their infants in the same room with them until their infants turn a year of age (just not in the same bed to sleep). Is this recommendation in the best interest of a baby’s sleep behaviors?  Paul et al. (10.1542/peds.2017-0122) had the ability to address this question using data from the Intervention Nurses Start Infants Growing on Healthy Trajectories (INSIGHT) study.  This study was primarily designed as an obesity trial but collected data on first-born mother infant dyads in regard to reported sleep duration of their infants and their overnight behaviors when differentiated by whether an infant slept in the same room with the mother or not.

Three groups of infants were identified in this study from brief sleep questionnaires given at 4, 9, 12, and 30 months with mothers surveyed regarding sleep duration and overnight behaviors of their infants.  One group was placed in their own room at less than 4 months of age, a second group were sleeping in their own room between 4 and 9 months of age, and a third group continued to share the room with the maternal parent after 9 months of age.  Interestingly enough, the babies who slept more and had better periods of uninterrupted sleep were those who had been placed in their own room by less than 4 months of age.  In addition, those who stayed in the room with a parent were more likely to be sleeping in bed with that parent despite the AAP guidelines that subsequently came out against bed-sharing.  So based on this study should we still adhere to the recommendations from the AAP on Safe Sleep?  We asked two of the leading contributors to the new infant sleep guidelines Drs. Rachel Moon and Fern Hauck to offer their perspective on this study in an accompanying commentary (10.1542/peds.2017-1323). 

Both the study and commentary are ones that will keep you wide awake while you read them.  After reading this study and commentary, we wonder if you will feel even more strongly that you need to recommend to families your support of mother-infant room sharing per the AAP (who feels the evidence points strongly for doing so) or will you be less likely to recommend 12 months of infant room-sharing given the findings by Dr. Paul and colleagues in this study. Please weigh in and share your thoughts on the study and commentary by responding to the blog, posting a comment with the study or commentary on our website or sharing on our Facebook or Twitter sites.

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