SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME IN CROSS-CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE: Is Infant-Parent Cosleeping Protective?
▪ Abstract This chapter reviews what is presently known about the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and examines the role that infant sleeping arrangements may play in reducing SIDS risks. Alongside sleep laboratory-based experimental evidence comparing bedsharing and solitary sleeping mother-infant pairs, an evolutionary and cross-cultural framework is used to argue that infant-parent cosleeping is biologically, psychologically, and socially the most appropriate context for the development of healthy infant sleep physiology. It is also the context within which potentially more optimal breastfeeding activities for both the mother and infant are most likely to emerge. A survey of cross-cultural data and laboratory findings suggest that where infant-parent cosleeping and breastfeeding are practiced in tandem in nonsmoking households, and are practiced by parents specifically to promote infant health, the chances of an infant dying from SIDS should be reduced.