Monday, December 26, 2005

Health Officials Asking Inuit To End A Tradition

Canadian health officials are asking Inuit to end the tradition of letting babies less than one year of age to sleep with their parents in bed. Doctors fear that the practice, which goes back to the Inuit's nomadic times, could be a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The cause of SIDS is a mystery, but evidence indicates babies should not be put to sleep on their stomachs or sides. Today's Inuit beds and bed covers have changed into softer beds, making it easier for a baby to roll over on their stomachs or sides. "We would certainly advise that babies under one year have a crib of their own, maybe once in a while sleep with mom or dad," said Dr. Sandy MacDonald. Annie Buchan, a Pauktuutit Inuit raised in an Igloo, said babies never slept between their parents, and were often on a slightly raised platform. She believes if parents have a firm mattress and tight covers, the choice of whether or not to sleep with a baby should be a personal one. "I think it's up to individuals. You know it's an Inuit tradition, then a lot of mothers would like to sleep with their babies," she said. " ...if they take proper precautions, then it shouldn't be dangerous." Since 1999, over 25% of Nunavut's infants who died under under 1 year of age died from SIDS.

To get a view of Inuit tradition in their artwork, see Inuit Art.

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