We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) risk reduction and infant sleep location : moving the discussion forward.

Ball, Helen L. and Volpe, L.E. (2013) 'Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) risk reduction and infant sleep location : moving the discussion forward.', Social science & medicine., 79 . pp. 84-91.


The notion that infant sleep environments are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and that parents who receive appropriate instruction will modify their infant-care habits has been fundamental to SIDS reduction campaigns. However infant sleep location recommendations have failed to emulate the previously successful infant sleep position campaigns that dramatically reduced infant deaths. In this paper we discuss the conflict between ‘safeguarding’ and ‘well-being’, contradictory messages, and rejected advice regarding infant sleep location. Following a summary of the relevant background literature we argue that bed-sharing is not a modifiable infant-care practice that can be influenced by risk-education and simple recommendations. We propose that differentiation between infant-care practices, parental behaviors, and cultural beliefs would assist in the development of risk-reduction interventions. Failure to recognize the importance of infant sleep location to ethnic and sub-cultural identity, has led to inappropriate and ineffective risk-reduction messages that are rejected by their target populations. Furthermore transfer of recommendations from one geographic or cultural setting to another without evaluation of variation within and between the origin and destination populations has led to inappropriate targeting of groups or behaviors. We present examples of how more detailed research and culturally-embedded interventions could reorient discussion around infant sleep location.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Bed-sharing, Co-sleeping, Infant care, Infant sleep location, Infant death, Culture, Parenting.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Social science & medicine. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Social science & medicine, 79, 2013, 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.03.025
Record Created:18 Mar 2013 10:05
Last Modified:27 Mar 2013 16:17

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitterExport: EndNote, Zotero | BibTex
Look up in GoogleScholar | Find in a UK Library