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SNP:"back to sleep campaign" and autism

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I recently was made aware of the fact that there are some out there who think the "back to sleep" campaign has contributed to the rise in autism.

So far the links I've read haven't been particularly convincing. But I was wondering if anyone out there had opinions either way on this issue.

This is what I initially read (a comment on an NPR radio show):
"Today, doctors try to prevent SIDS by not allowing babies get Slow Wave Sleep (Stage 3 and Stage 4 NREM sleep combined). Is this safe?

If a baby sleeps on their stomach they go through all 4 stages of NREM sleep and then through REM sleep in a typical 90 minute sleep cycle.

But, if you put a baby to sleep on it's back it goes through the first 2 stages of NREM sleep and then skips to REM sleep without going through Stage 3 and Stage 4 NREM sleep.

Before 1992 over 90% of U.S. babies slept on their stomach or side. Now, over 75% of U.S. babies sleep on their backs.

When humans are awake the memories they make are stored in their hippocampus. Then, during SWS, they are transferred to their Neocortex for permanent storage. This doesn't happen for babies anymore since they don't get SWS. Tummy Time is while they are Awake so SWS won't occur here either. Since 1992 we've had a huge increase in toddlers with neurodevelopmental issues specifically PDD-NOS.

What I'm trying to get at is that I think a possible unintended consequence of the SIDS "Back to Sleep" Campaign is that it has caused the Autism Epidemic.

http://tummysleepcentral.blogspot.com/2008_03_01_archive.html"

Curious to know what other MDC mamas think.

XOXO
B
post #2 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by BethSLP View Post
I recently was made aware of the fact that there are some out there who think the "back to sleep" campaign has contributed to the rise in autism.

So far the links I've read haven't been particularly convincing. But I was wondering if anyone out there had opinions either way on this issue.

This is what I initially read (a comment on an NPR radio show):
"Today, doctors try to prevent SIDS by not allowing babies get Slow Wave Sleep (Stage 3 and Stage 4 NREM sleep combined). Is this safe?

If a baby sleeps on their stomach they go through all 4 stages of NREM sleep and then through REM sleep in a typical 90 minute sleep cycle.

But, if you put a baby to sleep on it's back it goes through the first 2 stages of NREM sleep and then skips to REM sleep without going through Stage 3 and Stage 4 NREM sleep.

Before 1992 over 90% of U.S. babies slept on their stomach or side. Now, over 75% of U.S. babies sleep on their backs.

When humans are awake the memories they make are stored in their hippocampus. Then, during SWS, they are transferred to their Neocortex for permanent storage. This doesn't happen for babies anymore since they don't get SWS. Tummy Time is while they are Awake so SWS won't occur here either. Since 1992 we've had a huge increase in toddlers with neurodevelopmental issues specifically PDD-NOS.

What I'm trying to get at is that I think a possible unintended consequence of the SIDS "Back to Sleep" Campaign is that it has caused the Autism Epidemic.

http://tummysleepcentral.blogspot.com/2008_03_01_archive.html"

Curious to know what other MDC mamas think.

XOXO
B
Interesting. I've always let my kids sleep on tummies or sides. It seems like there's something just odd about those protruding foreheads and flat back of heads that I see everywhere. It doesn't seem healthy.

I think that a lot of different things contribute to autism. I think it can be triggered by many different things. My 18yo autistic sister has many of the risk factors...allergies, ear infections, mom had Rogam shot, vaccines. I don't think she slept on her back because she didn't sleep for the first 2 years.
post #3 of 27
I've never heard of this. I don't understand why it is believed that sleep position influences sleep cycles. I would be curious to know how many babies were studied to see if it is really true that all (or most) babies do not go into slow wave sleep on their backs. Because if that part isn't true, than any conclusions draw from that would be invalid.

I think it's safe to say that no one knows what causes or triggers autism and other specturm disorders, and I support research, even if it seems like an unlikely cause.
post #4 of 27
I'd have to read more to even think about forming an opinion. I had honestly never heard of this idea before.

BTW, my second always slept on his stomach-started in the hospital NICU and continued at home. He couldn't sleep any other way.
post #5 of 27
It's interesting. Dd couldn't sleep well on her back. I did occasionally let her sleep on her tummy but not often because I was scared of SIDS.

I believe autism has different causes for different kids, and chronic sleep deprivation seems like a possibility for some.
post #6 of 27
Without any further researching the subject, I'm thinking that if this were the case--why aren't ALL children affected by autism vs. the fraction of all children? Because if 75% now sleep on their backs, why wouldn't the rate of children in the spectrum be somewhere close to that?

Similar claims were made about children who skipped crawling and went right to walking--that it was somehow altering their development. That has since been found to be false.

I love, love, LOVE NPR for being an intelligent voice in a vast and growing sea of media stupidity; but that doesn't mean I agree with all of what they present... kwim?
post #7 of 27
the only way i could have gotten ds to sleep on his back would have been to strap him down. we used to swaddle him and he would sleep more on his side even then. its an interesting theory ... the sleep cycle part not sure how it would contribute to autism though. i think it is unlikely (but not impossible) that one or two specific things have caused the rise in autism.. it seems more probable that it is a combination of factors.

i suppose they could take an incredibly large number of women and watch them and their children from a few years prior to conception through their children's adolescence and see how many children are diagnosed with autism and try and pick out things they have in common with each other and different from the children without autism ... but then they would probably have to follow them through several generations for it to be a thorough study so it would be a bit hard.

would be interesting to find out more though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post

Similar claims were made about children who skipped crawling and went right to walking--that it was somehow altering their development. That has since been found to be false.
this is one of those things i have always found interesting. how would they propose you make your children crawl. i could see where skipping crawling could be indicative of something... but even that seems unlikely. i skipped crawling... and i have ADD which is apparently common in children who skipped crawling. my brother crawled and he has a ADD to
post #8 of 27
I've never been a believer in the "Back to Sleep" campaign, if you read the studies that showed an increase in SIDS for tummy sleepers, all you have to do is correct it for variables and you'll find that the "true" risks of tummy sleeping have to do with environment a huge majority of the time. Second hand smoke, soft sleeping surfaces, blankets, sleeping on the stomach with another person (particularly one who has had alcohol, medications, one who has sleep apnea, someone who is overweight, etc), certain races and demographics (the lower the income, the more likely SIDS is), etc. Most of those risk factors can be overcome by changing the baby's sleeping position to the back, but if you have a baby with NONE of those risks, then back sleeping vs tummy sleeping isn't any different. Statistically.

Here the campaign is "The ABCs of Sleep" which is A=Alone, B=on their Back, C=in a Crib. It's expands on the back to sleep by basically talking badly about cosleeping, which again has its own set of risk factors that can be overcome.

I think if someone wants to draw some conclusions about sleep positions and Autism, they should look to other countries. What other countries have their babies sleep on their backs? Do those countries have high rates of Autism? If not, then there's obviously another component.
post #9 of 27
I think it represents a fundamental misunderstanding of statistics. Just because the rise in autism and the rise in back sleeping coincide does not mean that there is a causal relationship between the two.

And furthermore, the prone (tummy) sleeping position only became recommended in the US in the 1930s and 1940s, and I don't think it became common until the 1950s. Most babies were placed on their backs. (Even side sleeping was discouraged because it might supposedly lead to compression of the ribs!)

So, why isn't there a generation of people born before 1930 (like my parents - yes, I'm that old) who have the same high rates of autism?

Autism is a complex neurological condition -- there's a genetic component, an environmental component and probably some other things that we just don't understand (yet) associated with it. I don't think we can ever reduce the 'cause' of autism to a single factor.

Furthermore, it makes me angry when people try because it's a short step from there to 'blame'. If only the parents hadn't put their children to sleep on their backs... If only the parents hadn't vaccinated their children... If only the parents had parented better... If only the parents had married someone with different genes....
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
I think it represents a fundamental misunderstanding of statistics. Just because the rise in autism and the rise in back sleeping coincide does not mean that there is a causal relationship between the two.

And furthermore, the prone (tummy) sleeping position only became recommended in the US in the 1930s and 1940s, and I don't think it became common until the 1950s. Most babies were placed on their backs. (Even side sleeping was discouraged because it might supposedly lead to compression of the ribs!)

So, why isn't there a generation of people born before 1930 (like my parents - yes, I'm that old) who have the same high rates of autism?

Autism is a complex neurological condition -- there's a genetic component, an environmental component and probably some other things that we just don't understand (yet) associated with it. I don't think we can ever reduce the 'cause' of autism to a single factor.

Furthermore, it makes me angry when people try because it's a short step from there to 'blame'. If only the parents hadn't put their children to sleep on their backs... If only the parents hadn't vaccinated their children... If only the parents had parented better... If only the parents had married someone with different genes....

: I agree with ALL of that. People are just looking for something to point to and then remove thereby eliminating the issue in question. If it were that simple, don't you think we'd have figured it out by now?!

Geesh!
post #11 of 27
All my babies slept on their stomachs. I was aware of the back to sleep campaign but my kids simply would not sleep on their backs or sides as babies. Ever. A couple of them had severe reflux so they needed to be on their stomachs anyway. 2 of my kids are on the spectrum.
post #12 of 27
If your read enough, you'll learn the truth- everything causes autism








Or at least that is the only possible conclusion if you choose to believe every theory or hypothesis regarding it. There are so many people assuming correlations equal causation, or commiting outright fraud when it comes to finding an environmental cause of autism it's downright criminal.

Many Native American mothers had their babies swaddled to cradle boards for much of the first year of life. I'm sure other cultures always put babies on their back or always put babies on their stomachs. And, although I would agree that the diagnosing of autism spectrum disorders has skyrocketed, I don't necessarily believe that the actual prevalence has increased very much.
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2boyzmama View Post
Here the campaign is "The ABCs of Sleep" which is A=Alone, B=on their Back, C=in a Crib. It's expands on the back to sleep by basically talking badly about cosleeping, which again has its own set of risk factors that can be overcome.
I find this campaign really annoying. My friends' baby was born at Miami Valley Hospital and came home with a onesie that said, "I sleep Alone on my Back in a Crib." The family co-sleeps, so obviously Baby never wore it.

There are lots and lots of bad theories about what can cause autism (pitocin and rainfall amounts, for example). This sounds like another one to add to that list.
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lollybrat View Post
I find this campaign really annoying. My friends' baby was born at Miami Valley Hospital and came home with a onesie that said, "I sleep Alone on my Back in a Crib." The family co-sleeps, so obviously Baby never wore it.

There are lots and lots of bad theories about what can cause autism (pitocin and rainfall amounts, for example). This sounds like another one to add to that list.
Rainfall? Wow.
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
I think it represents a fundamental misunderstanding of statistics. Just because the rise in autism and the rise in back sleeping coincide does not mean that there is a causal relationship between the two....
Yes- correlation does not show causation, but it does indicate the potential for a relationship. I'm not saying there is one here, but a correlation DOES (sometimes) mean SOMETHING. And, of course, there are degrees of correlation. So, while it does not imply causation, and sometimes things can have a correlation when there is no direct relationship, correlations can often be a starting point for further research and ideas.

What I'm saying is that while you have to be careful to not imply causation, discovering correlations and exploring them is not a worthless endevour.

The things that are going into this theory (autism, sleep, neurology, genetics and social programs) are all complex. I'm certainly no expert, but I doubt that a direct line could be drawn from sleep to autism without at least passing though genetics and most likely other factors as well.

As frustrating and sad as it is, there is no "neat and tidy bow" to tie up autism. We want so badly to say "THIS causes autism, so if we just don't do that, the kids won't get it...". But it is just not that simple.
post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by preemiemamarach View Post
Rainfall? Wow.
Here are a couple of articles about the "connection" between autism and rainfall:

http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/ne...-may-be-linked
http://www.reuters.com/article/healt...4A34WG20081104
post #17 of 27
First of all, Back to Sleep is not a new thing.

My grandmother's edition of Dr. Spock (1941) tells parents how crucial it is to make sure baby sleeps on its back so that it doesn't spit up and then drown in the puddle of spit-up.

Secondly, I'm not convinced that having newborns go into deep sleep cycles is at all a good thing or what nature intends. Infants have trouble regulating their sleep/wake cycles and controlling their basic functions if they go too deep. When cosleeping, they adjust to the breathing of the adults in the room with them. But sleeping on their own, they should probably *not* sleep deeply.

THink about how babies must have slept before the invention of firm, flat, mattresses. If you're nestling your baby in a cradle lined with a straw-stuffed mattress, are you going to put it face down into a soft surface that will plug its nose and mouth? If you are sleeping with your baby on a straw-covered, fur-lined platform, are you going to put it face down, or are you going to nestle it against you on its back or side in the crook of your arm.

ARguments about babies sleeping "better" on their tummies on a hard mattress are kind of irrelevant, since that's the setup that anyone had anywhere until relatively recently, and there is no evidence that sleeping deeply like an adult is "better" for a baby in a health sense of the word.
post #18 of 27
lollybrat, just had to say i think that onesie saying is hilarious!!! the only way it'd be funnier is if they had it in adult sizes, and you saw someone wearing the shirt.
post #19 of 27
Someone somewhere needs to write "I will not start post hoc ergo propter hoc rumors" on the chalkboard in the manner of Bart Simpson. That or we should start our own rumors just to see if they catch on. Anyone? I haven't heard autism attributed to the fall of the Berlin Wall yet, we could try that one.
post #20 of 27
DS was a tummy sleeper (and co-sleeper), and while we may have caused all manner of ills to befall him, he was born autistic . And he slept far better than my NT DD as an infant.

I personally think babies and parents need to work out sleep that works best, and that a wide variety of possibilities exist. Babies are pretty adaptable creatures, and sleep in lots of places and ways.

Nothing like hooking two hot button issues together to make people crazy .
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