Whether sleeping by the side of one's infants could lead to the baby's death is a worry in some quarters in the West now.
Quebec coroner Catherine Rudel-Tessier says it is wrong to downplay the dangers involved in the practice.
The coroner had investigated two cases where babies were suffocated to death while sleeping with their parents in bed.
Rudel-Tessier is concerned that young parents are being "misled about the dangers of sleeping with their infants," reports CBC News.
A guide published by the Quebec province's public health institute says the practice is beneficial, but such a conclusion counters scientific evidence, contends the coroner in her report released Friday.
The guide lists several advantages to having babies sleep with their parents, including proximity to body heat, and tactile and visual stimulation.
But then the danger of parents rolling over their babies while sleeping is too great to recommend the practice, asserts Rudel-Tessier.
The coroner's office will recommend Quebec's public health institute modify the guidelines.
Babies should sleep in a crib in their parents' bedroom for the first six months of life, without pillows or teddy bears, she said. Dressing infants warmly at night instead of wrapping them in a blanket is also a preferred practice, the report concluded.
Nine babies in Quebec have died of suffocation after sleeping with an adult since 2000, Rudel-Tessier said.
But others are not convinced. A visitor to the CBC website asked, "I'd really like to understand why it is that coroners, who have no actual background in this area other than examining the dead, are repeatedly given air time to speak about this.
They cite nothing but their personal opinion that parents will roll over on their children . They scaremonger when none of their arguments are supported by studies. They claim things are not "scientifically proven" when there are numerous examples of studies that show the benefits of co-sleeping."
Parents have been sleeping with their infants ever since we swung out of the trees and started walking upright. In most developing countries moms sleep with babies and a few other kids too. Only in privileged countries like Canada (and not all of Canada) do parents have the luxury of: a crib; extra blankets; a spare bedroom; a bed. Also cultural differences may dictate that babies are welcome in the parental bed. I think we need more statistics than the unfortunate two babies cited in the article, suggests another.
If nine children died from co-sleeping then billions of people worldwide who co-sleep with their children must be wrong, it is pointed out.
There is one study though that concluded the practice of co-sleeping was harmful - and that was paid for by baby equipment manufacturers!