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Some of the claims made in this article are misleading. For instance, the author claims that " ...formula makes babies sleep too deeply, contributing to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)." The link provided, however, provides evidence only that breastfeeding (even partial) is associated with a decreased incidence of SIDS. First, the finding that breastfeeding is associated with a lower incidence of SIDS, although well-supported in the literature, is essentially a correlation and CORRELATIONS DO NOT PROVE CAUSATION. Despite the attempt to measure and statistically control for possible third variables, it remains possible that parents who choose or are able to breastfeed share some common characteristic that also contributes to a lower incidence of SIDS. In other words, without a double-blind clinical trial there is no evidence that breastfeeding CAUSES a decrease in SIDS. More importantly, however, and the misleading part of the article is that even if we were to assume that breastfeeding does, in fact, cause a decease in the incidence of SIDS it does not logically follow - nor is there any evidence to suggest - that formula either (a) makes babies sleep too deeply, or (b) contributes to SIDS. To conclude this we need studies showing that (a) formula makes babies sleep too deeply (not just longer, since longer doesn't necessarily mean too deeply), and (b) formula causes SIDS. Indeed, the article cited by Dr. Narvaez provides evidence that babies who are fed formula have a decreased risk of SIDS if they are also breastfed.
BTW, I have a 14-month-old who was EBF until she weaned herself at 12 months. We struggled with sleep issues until about a month ago when we decided to finally try a controlled CIO method. This involved going into her room when she woke at night, telling her it wasn't time to get up and still sleepy time, laying her back down, telling her we loved her and would come get her in the morning, and leaving the room while she cried for first 10 minutes, then 15, then 20, etc. We never made it past 20 minutes, it took 3 nights, and now she falls asleep easily and sleeps through the night (for 12 hours). I would not have tried this when she was much younger because I wanted her to be able to understand what we were telling her, and am not an advocate of CIO methods in general, but I also believe that misinformation and fear-mongering (in the form of psuedo-science) have made some parents so confused and anxious that they suffer and allow their babies to suffer through unhealthy sleep patterns well into their toddler years. I know parents with 18-month-olds who bed-share and wake several times at night to breastfeed. If they do this because they WANT to do this, then that is their choice. But if they do this because they are afraid that night-weaning will somehow harm their baby or their attachment relationship, or they are afraid that a little controlled CIO will do more harm than good, then - Dr. Narvaez - we owe it to them and their infants to NOT MAKE CLAIMS UNSUPPORTED BY EVIDENCE, ESPECIALLY WHEN WE HAVE A PHD OR MD AFTER OUR NAME AND PRESENT THESE CLAIMS AS EVIDENCE-BASED. WE CAN AND MUST DO BETTER THAN THIS.
I am a Developmental scientist with a Ph.D. from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota.
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