Alcohol and Co-Sleeping Affect Risk for SIDS

Upon hearing of the additional risks listed in the study such as a combination of co-sleeping and parental alcohol use, blogger Taylor wondered if parents' reasons for bed sharing may be part of the nuanced finding in the new study.

"With co-sleeping, it's really a matter of whether because it's conscious parenting, or whether it's just, 'We don't want to get a crib because it's a hassle,'" Taylor said.

Taylor said he eventually built a smaller bed, the family's "side car," at the same height as the parent's bed for the new additions to the family.

In an editorial published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal, Dr. Edwin Mitchell, professor of child health research at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, wrote, "So what needs to be done? We have learnt that SIDS is largely preventable. Further epidemiological studies will provide only relatively small gains and some clarification of the risk factors."

Mitchell proposed surveys to keep doctors up to date about parental behavior, saying, "Educational research is needed, in particular, how to change behavior."

But Linda Tantawi, executive director of the CJ Foundation for SIDS in Hackensack, N.J., took issue with the notion that SIDS is preventable, especially because doctors do not know what causes it.

"We don't want to mix up risk factors with causes -- say that SIDS is largely preventable. Can you imagine a SIDS mom reading this, one who found her baby on her back, dead?" Tantawi said.

Tantawi pointed out that a variety of behaviors can affect the risk of SIDS.

"We know that breastfeeding reduces the risk, but are we making mothers breast feed?" Tantawi said. "We know that putting a fan in the room reduces the risk, but do we have to make everyone put a fan in the room?"

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