Satnam Singh Atwal, M.D.
Every culture is gifted with certain values. The traditions i.e. the ways to live life in a particular culture are established according to the demands of the society. Before a tradition is acquired by a culture, it is experimented and tried over a span of centuries. Afterwards it becomes the part of life as it suits best to the society as a whole. But due to modernization, some of the traditions are being discarded without giving any due consideration. One such tradition which is losing its value in modern society is letting the babies to sleep with parents.
Traditionally among Sikh families new born babies sleep with their parents for a considerable length of time which is thought to be the most critical period for survival and development. But influence of urban western living has tempted the parents to allow their young babies to sleep in cribs which are generally placed in separate rooms. Especially among immigrant population, this ancient tradition of sleeping in the same bed is vanishing away very quickly and such parents have started thinking that their children interfere in their own privacy.
However, recently in a study conducted by James J. McKenna, a famous anthropologist, who works at California’s Pomona College and University of California at Irvine, it has been proved that young babies who sleep in separate beds are more at risk to suffer from ‘‘Sudden Infant Death Syndrome’”’ (SID) Sudden Infant death Syndrome (SID) occurs when babies stop breathing and die without any apparent reason. Epidemiological studies reveal that ninety percent of the cases occur in babies younger than six months. Almost 10.000 American babies are affected by SID every year.
James McKenna argues that human baby’s are the most vulnerable of all the primates. But parents separate themselves: physically from their in fans when they are 0 very young age. Because¢ of their immaturity and vulnerability human in fans face the risk 0 missing out normal breathing cues which they need as their breathing systems mature. It has also been argued that this problem appears to be unique to humans because human breathing pattern changes between second and fourth month of life in preparation for speech.
These facts have been reproduced in an experiment at Irvine sleep center, in which McKenna monitored the breathing and other vital signs of a parent and baby as they slept first in separate rooms and then in the same bed.
Preliminary evidence from the first mother and baby tested reveals that the baby’s breathing rhythm followed the mother’s. Probably this is the phenomenon which may “remind” the in, fans to breath. This was not found when both o} them slept apart. Thus early studies reveal that mother’s breathing may serve as a cue for initiating breathing in infant: which may not be available when mother and baby sleep separately i1 different rooms.
Thus this study suggests that sleeping with infants could prevent SII which is a very lethal dis ease. Traditional sleeping A habit of parent and baby in same bed appears to play a vital role in the growth and survival ability of the newborn. My advice is that we should stick to our traditions a try to maintain our culture which probably curtains numerous other protective defenses against nature’s cruelty.
Article extracted from this publication >> April 12, 1985