April 8, 2005
Ted Brown (Kokomo, Ind./Western H.S.), a sophomore swimmer at the University of Notre Dame, will present a paper at the 74th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) this weekend in Milwaukee, Wis.
Brown conducted research last summer with professor Jim McKenna, the chair of Notre Dame’s department of Anthropology and one of the leading Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) researchers in the world. The Irish sophomore completed his project, titled “Body Body Orientations, Sleep Positions, and Breast Feeding Behavior Amongst Solitary and Co-sleeping (Bedsharing) Human Mother-Infant Pairs: Mutual Physiological Regulatory Effects,” this semester, and it was selected by the AAPA committee to be presented this weekend.
The abstract of his project describes its goal and procedures: “Since the `back-to-sleep’ campaign initiated in 1992, the rate per 1000 live births of American infants dying from SIDS has been reduced by half. This NIH funded research provides a basis for further appreciating how the mother’s body and responses in addition to the infant sleeping on its back can create an adaptive `micro-environment’ for the human infant, and how both the mother and infant, by virtue of their sensory interactions, changes each other’s physiological status. 15 routinely solitary sleeping breastfeeding infants and their mothers and 23 routinely bed sharing breastfeeding mother-baby pairs sleeping apart and together over three consecutive nights were filmed using infrared cameras. Data collected on body orientation, sleep position, crying, breastfeeding, and maternal responses, as mothers and infants shift between bedsharing and separate room sleeping reveal changes in maternal-infant interactions involving partner-induced arousal patterns and overall sleep duration. Breastfeeding doubled when mother and their infants slept together, and infants cried significantly less. Decreased infant crying may be related to the shortened temporal latencies between when the infant aroused and when their bedsharing mothers responded. This makes problematic a 1999 recommendation by the American Consumer Product Safety Commission, to `never sleep with a baby.”
According to Brown, the most important and significant finding in my study is that when mothers sleep in proximity, their infant’s behavior changes in many ways, having potentially important implications for both maternal and infant health.
Physical anthropology is a biological science that deals with the adaptations, variability, and evolution of human beings and their living and fossil relatives. Because it studies human biology in the context of human culture and behavior, physical anthropology is also a social science. The AAPA is the world’s leading professional organization for physical anthropologists. Formed in 1930, the AAPA now has an international membership of over 1,700. The annual meeting normally draws more than 1,000 scientists and students from all over the world.
Brown, one of the most versatile swimmers on the Irish, has led Notre Dame in points scored in individual action in each of his collegiate seasons. He holds the University record in the 500-yard freestyle (4:25.83) and was named honorable mention Academic All-America by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) in his rookie season. A pre-medicine and anthropology major in the College of Arts & Letters, he boasts a 3.626 cumulative grade-point average.