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Original president of SIDS Foundation says co-sleeping is not dangerous

Dr. Bergman advises pediatricians to educate parents on the benefits of safe co-sleeping

The doctor responsible for spearheading Sudden Infant Death Syndrome funding and education since the 1970's is calling for doctors to stop saying that co-sleeping is dangerous.

Dr. Abraham B. Bergman, who was the first president of the National SIDS Foundation, published an editorial in JAMA Pediatrics,“Bed Sharing per se Is Not Dangerous.”

In it, the respected doctor calls out the American Academy of Pediatrics for making unfounded claims against bed sharing with babies, and calls for consistency in how infant deaths are classified. He writes:

Since 1998, it appears that medical examiners and coroners are moving away from classifying deaths as SIDS and calling more deaths accidental suffocation or unknown cause, suggesting that diagnostic and reporting practices have changed. Inconsistent practices in investigation and cause-of-death determination hamper the ability to monitor national trends, ascertain risk factors, and design and evaluate programs to prevent these deaths.

He goes on to say:

The National Center for Health Statistics receives its information about causes of death from a potpourri of US coroners and medical examiners in 2185 different death investigation jurisdictions. This lack of uniformity means that the personal beliefs of coroners and medical examiners determine the diagnoses written on death certificates.

Dr. Berman notes that these coroners and medical examiners often mislabel SIDS deaths as accidental suffocation because many of them don't believe that SIDS is an actual disease entity, and don't take into account "the devastation this terminology inflicts on the surviving family members."

He also notes that many doctors themselves practice bed sharing with their babies, writing:

I detect a note of irony in the AAP’s position. Are we advising our patients against a practice that many of us follow? Colson et al show that bed sharing is reported among 12.2% of caretakers with some college education and 9.2% of caretakers who have graduated from college and/or had post-baccalaureate education. Many pediatricians’ families seem to be among those who ignore the AAP recommendation, with or without guilt.

Dr. Bergman wrote the editorial in response to advice published elsewhere in the same issue of JAMA Pediatrics against co-sleeping, noting that there was no evidence that co-sleeping was dangerous: