I was glad to read that Americans are beginning to recover from the lonely -- and dangerous -- fashion of requiring infants to sleep by themselves ["More Parents Bring Baby to Bed," news story, Jan. 14].
I have done research on this topic. Based on data from the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I found a similar trend: The number of babies who "never" share a bed with their mother decreased from 42 percent in 1991 to 29 percent in 1999.
Further, I looked closely at the data used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to claim that sleeping with an infant is unsafe. The data showed that although a few infants do die in adult beds, an infant is actually more than twice as likely to suffocate alone in a crib as in an adult bed with someone nearby.
Millions of years of evolution have given both parents and children the strong desire to stay close to each other, for good reason.
Rob Stein's article highlighted an important trend, but Mr. Stein is confused in alleging that "putting babies to sleep with an adult is a major risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)."
He cited evidence that in infant deaths, often "the baby was under a pillow or a mom or dad was on top of the baby directly, or maybe the dad's arm was across the baby's mouth." This is certainly a risk among parents who drink or use drugs. But parental drug use is dangerous whether the baby is in bed, in the bath or in the parent's arms.
In SIDS, however, "a seemingly healthy baby dies suddenly without apparent explanation." The baby simply stops breathing. Studies show that parental closeness often prevents this; some argue that babies need parents to set their internal biorhythms.