Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Children aren’t hurt or helped by sharing bed with parents

14.08.2002


Routine parent-child bedsharing before 6 years of age appears to have no major impact on a child’s subsequent development or behavior -- for better or for worse, the first long-term study of the practice reveals.

The researchers’ finding that there is "no evidence linking [early parent-child bedsharing], when engaged in responsibly, with any sort of problematic outcome" should give experts who caution against the practice reason to reconsider their advice, according to lead author Paul Okami, Ph.D., of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Okami notes that a large majority of the world’s children share a room, if not a bed, with their parents. Yet American parents receive conflicting messages about the practice.



"Many - perhaps most - experts do not advocate bedsharing, and the American Academy of Pediatrics cautions against ’routine’ bedsharing," he explains. These detractors voice concerns that the practice may have such negative impacts as causing sleep disorders and interfering with normal psychosexual development.

At the same time, Okami observes, "A number of clinicians and child-rearing experts have advocated purposeful parent-child bedsharing, or ’the family bed’ as it has come to be known." These proponents claim such long-term benefits to the child as an increased capacity for intimacy.

Okami and his colleagues followed a group of 205 California-born children and their parents since the children were born in 1975. Three-quarters of the families led "unconventional" lifestyles, such as single parenthood and collective living, at the study’s beginning; many endorsed "natural" child-rearing practices. For this reason, the larger study - known as the Family Lifestyles Project - provided an unusual opportunity to investigate patterns of bedsharing and their effects.

As described in the August issue of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, the investigators asked parents to describe their children’s usual sleeping arrangements four times: age 5 months and 3, 4 and 6 years.

At 5 months, 35 percent of the parents reported having their infants in the same room or bed with them at least intermittently, but only 9 percent reported regular bedsharing. The overall rate of regular bedsharing held steady at 6 percent between ages 3 and 5, then fell to 3 percent at age 6.

Bedsharing at some point before age 6 years was most common among those unconventional parents who considered themselves "pronatural" (20 percent) and least common among the conventional parents who were married and living together (2 percent).

Extensive analysis of bedsharing and various developmental and behavioral outcomes, Okami reports, "[did] not support fears that bedsharing would lead to psychosexually troubled relationships later in childhood and adolescence, behavior problems and difficulties in peer and intimate relationships, or early childhood sleep problems."

Children whose parents reported that they were regularly part of a "family bed" at 5 months were no more likely than their non-bedsharing counterparts to experience sleep problems at 2 and 3 years of age.

At age 6, there was no obvious relationship between bedsharing score and behavioral maturity, emotional maturity, mood and affect, or creativity. Nor was there evidence that bedsharing had a negative or positive effect on a child’s sexual fantasies, concerns or preoccupations.

At age 18, the amount of time a child had spent in the "family bed" had no significant impact on his or her ability to relate to parents, adults in general, other family members or peers. Nor was there evidence of a link between bedsharing history and a child’s likelihood of using alcohol, tobacco or hard drugs; having problems with self-acceptance or considering suicide; engaging in vandalism, fights or serious crimes; being sexually active; or having either positive or negative sexual experiences.

If anything, the investigators note, their data indicate small but widespread benefits to children where bedsharing is "part of a wider set of pronatural child-rearing practices and framed by humanistic/egalitarian values," as opposed to a reflection of an underlying pathology such as sexual abuse.


###
Support for the Family Lifestyles study was provided by the Carnegie Corporation, the United States Public Health Service, the W.T. Grant Foundation, and the University of California Los Angeles.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Health Behavior News Service: (202) 387-2829 or www.hbns.org.
Interviews: Contact Dr. Paul Okami at (213) 387-1125 or birdlivs@attbi.com.
Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics: Contact Mary Sharkey at (212) 595-7717.


Dr. Paul Okami | EurekAlert!

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Sibling differences: Later-borns choose less prestigious programs at university
14.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

nachricht Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ
09.11.2017 | Vanderbilt University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>