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Analysis of the ethical issues in the breastfeeding and bedsharing debate

Fetherston, C. and Leach, J.S. (2012) Analysis of the ethical issues in the breastfeeding and bedsharing debate. Breastfeeding Review, 20 (3). pp. 7-17.

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Recommendations advising against mothers and their infants sharing a bed during sleep (bedsharing) have sparked heated debate in recent years, the effects of which are that bedsharing is now most often only considered in the polarised contexts of being either ‘the norm’ or ‘inherently unsafe’. This has resulted in significant tensions between supporters of bedsharing and public health bodies who seek to eliminate the risks associated with SIDS. This paper considers the issues surrounding this debate by examining the evidence associated with bedsharing, SIDS and breastfeeding. This is undertaken using Baum’s six-step framework for analysing potential ethical tensions in public health policy, which includes the principles of utility, evidence base and effectiveness of action, fairness, accountability, costs and burdens, and community acceptance. This framework has allowed us to examine the competing principles involved in the bedsharing and breastfeeding debate, and arrive at a position constructed using ethical considerations.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Nursing & Midwifery
Publisher: Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA)
Copyright: 2012 Australian Breastfeeding Association
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