In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released their updated policy on safe sleep and the safe sleep environment, which recommends that infants and mothers room share but not bedshare for the first year of life. Despite the publicity this policy has gotten and continues to get, what actually happens? To answer that question, Kellams et al (10.1542/peds.2019-1523) surveyed a national sample of mothers from 32 different hospitals regarding their safe sleep practices for their infants ages 2-6 months of age at the time of the survey. Mothers were asked about their infant’s sleep environment during the 2 weeks prior to the survey and where they intended to have their infant sleep for the 2 weeks that followed the survey. Unfortunately, of the 3,260 mothers surveyed, less than half (45.4%) were room sharing without bedsharing according to the policy recommendations. The authors also evaluated characteristics that might be associated with bed sharing and found that if social norms for a mother favored bedsharing or if a mother were exclusively or even partially breastfeeding, they were more likely to bedshare. Even for mothers who reported room sharing but not bedsharing in the past two weeks, 24.2% reported that they intended to bedshare over the next two weeks.
Countering this, however, was the advice mothers said they got from their pediatric health care professional. If we actively educate a mother not to bedshare, there is a greater chance bedsharing will not occur than if we do not specifically make the point of telling mothers about this recommendation. The findings of the mothers surveyed in this study will have you rethinking about how you can more effectively reinforce the importance of the AAP’s safe sleep policy to prevent sudden unexpected infant death from occurring. The subgroup analyses are just as interesting as the overall summary findings—so link to this study for information that will do anything but put you to sleep.