Mother-infant bed sharing is associated with an increase in infant heart rate

ysiological effects of bed sharing elicit secondary effects that may impact the infant: data suggests that the increase in body temperature noted in bed sharing infants may be due to increased movements during sleep in those infants.

Since external sensory input is generally arousing and involves increased sympathetic activity, California physiologists hypothesized that infant heart rate would be increased during mother-infant bed sharing. Since there was no evidence for or against an effect of external sensory input or psychological effect on heart rate variability, they proposed the null hypothesis that variability was the same between the two environments.

A New Study

The authors of "Mother-Infant Bed Sharing is Associated With an Increase in Infant Heart Rate" are Christopher A. Richard, Ph.D., of the Department of Neurobiology, University of California, Los Angeles, and the Sleep Disorders Center, St. Joseph's Hospital, Orange, CA; and Sarah S. Mosko, Ph.D., also of St. Joseph's Hospital. These studies were done from 1993-1999 at the University of California, Irvine Sleep Disorders Center. They are presenting their findings at the upcoming meeting, Experimental Biology 2003, co-sponsored by the American Physiological Society (APS). Some 8,000 attendees are expected to gather at the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA, April 11-15, 2003.


Thirty-five healthy mother-infant pairs were recruited for a three-night study in the sleep laboratory for polysomnography (sleep study) with video recording. In 15 of those pairs, the ECG was digitized and used to derive heart rate and constitutes the sample in this study. All mothers were interviewed to determine their normal sleeping arrangements at home and those that consistently practiced either bed sharing or solitary sleeping were assigned to routine bed sharing or routine solitary sleeping groups: pairs that used both practices were e

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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