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Changing approaches to Infant Sleep Safety

Parent and sleeping baby

From the 1990s to 2014 United Kingdom guidance to reduce sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUDI) advised parents to avoid bed-sharing with their babies. Durham research explored and explained why half of UK parents rejected this guidance; when and how United Kingdom parents and babies co-slept; and why bed-sharing was an important part of night-time infant care for many United Kingdom families. Our research evidence underpinned a rethink of official infant sleep safety guidance in the United Kingdom to accommodate the needs of culturally diverse families and acknowledge the benefits to mothers and babies of sleeping together while providing information about hazards to avoid, culminating in national guidelines on infant sleep safety by Public Health England, and an international protocol by the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. Durham University was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for this work in 2018.

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