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 More similar than expected: men and women adjust their health behavior after shock events
04.05.2020 | Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

nachricht The gender cliff: Why women in a partnership seldom earn more than men
23.04.2020 | Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Small Protein, Big Impact

In meningococci, the RNA-binding protein ProQ plays a major role. Together with RNA molecules, it regulates processes that are important for pathogenic properties of the bacteria.

Meningococci are bacteria that can cause life-threatening meningitis and sepsis. These pathogens use a small protein with a large impact: The RNA-binding...

Im Focus: K-State study reveals asymmetry in spin directions of galaxies

Research also suggests the early universe could have been spinning

An analysis of more than 200,000 spiral galaxies has revealed unexpected links between spin directions of galaxies, and the structure formed by these links...

Im Focus: New measurement exacerbates old problem

Two prominent X-ray emission lines of highly charged iron have puzzled astrophysicists for decades: their measured and calculated brightness ratios always disagree. This hinders good determinations of plasma temperatures and densities. New, careful high-precision measurements, together with top-level calculations now exclude all hitherto proposed explanations for this discrepancy, and thus deepen the problem.

Hot astrophysical plasmas fill the intergalactic space, and brightly shine in stellar coronae, active galactic nuclei, and supernova remnants. They contain...

Im Focus: Biotechnology: Triggered by light, a novel way to switch on an enzyme

In living cells, enzymes drive biochemical metabolic processes enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very ability which allows them to be used as catalysts in biotechnology, for example to create chemical products such as pharmaceutics. Researchers now identified an enzyme that, when illuminated with blue light, becomes catalytically active and initiates a reaction that was previously unknown in enzymatics. The study was published in "Nature Communications".

Enzymes: they are the central drivers for biochemical metabolic processes in every living cell, enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very...

Im Focus: New double-contrast technique picks up small tumors on MRI

Early detection of tumors is extremely important in treating cancer. A new technique developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from normal tissue. The work is published May 25 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Why developing nerve cells can take a wrong turn

04.06.2020 | Life Sciences

The broken mirror: Can parity violation in molecules finally be measured?

04.06.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Innocent and highly oxidizing

04.06.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>