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Sleep Med Rev. 2017 Apr;32:4-27. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2016.03.003. Epub 2016 Mar 15.

Parent-child bed-sharing: The good, the bad, and the burden of evidence.

Author information

1
Center for Child and Family Studies, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands; Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry / Psychology, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Electronic address: viara.mileva@gmail.com.
2
Center for Child and Family Studies, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.
3
Department of Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry, Niguarda Ca' Granda Hospital, Milan, Italy.
4
Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry / Psychology, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; The Generation R Study Group, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; School of Pedagogical and Educational Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

The practice of parent and child sharing a sleeping surface, or 'bed-sharing', is one of the most controversial topics in parenting research. The lay literature has popularized and polarized this debate, offering on one hand claims of dangers, and on the other, of benefits - both physical and psychological - associated with bed-sharing. To address the scientific evidence behind such claims, we systematically reviewed 659 published papers (peer-reviewed, editorial pieces, and commentaries) on the topic of parent-child bed-sharing. Our review offers a narrative walkthrough of the many subdomains of bed-sharing research, including its many correlates (e.g., socioeconomic and cultural factors) and purported risks or outcomes (e.g., sudden infant death syndrome, sleep problems). We found general design limitations and a lack of convincing evidence in the literature, which preclude making strong generalizations. A heat-map based on 98 eligible studies aids the reader to visualize world-wide prevalence in bed-sharing and highlights the need for further research in societies where bed-sharing is the norm. We urge for multiple subfields - anthropology, psychology/psychiatry, and pediatrics - to come together with the aim of understanding infant sleep and how nightly proximity to the parents influences children's social, emotional, and physical development.

KEYWORDS:

Bed-sharing; Co-sleeping; Parent-child; Prevalence; Systematic review

PMID:
27107752
DOI:
10.1016/j.smrv.2016.03.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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