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Outcome Correlates of Parent-Child Bedsharing: An Eighteen-Year Longitudinal Study

OKAMI, PAUL Ph.D.; WEISNER, THOMAS Ph.D.; OLMSTEAD, RICHARD Ph.D.

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: August 2002 - Volume 23 - Issue 4 - p 244-253
Original Articles

ABSTRACT. We report results of the first longitudinal study of outcome correlates of parent-child bedsharing. Two hundred five families in nonconventional and conventional family lifestyles have been followed since 1975. A target child in each family was followed from the third trimester of mother’s pregnancy through age 18 years. Bedsharing in early childhood was found to be significantly associated with increased cognitive competence measured at age 6 years, but the effect size was small. At age 6 years, bedsharing in infancy and early childhood was not associated with sleep problems, sexual pathology, or any other problematic consequences. At age 18 years, bedsharing in infancy and childhood was unrelated to pathology or problematic consequences, nor was it related to beneficial consequences. We discuss these results in light of widespread fears of harm caused by parent-child bedsharing. We suggest that such fears are without warrant if bedsharing is practiced safely as part of a complex of valued and related family practices.

Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles

Center for Culture and Health, Departments of Anthropology and Psychiatry, University of California, Los Angeles

Neuropsychiatric Institute, Division of Adult Psychiatry, University of California, Los Angeles, California

Address for reprints: Paul Okami, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095-1563.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.