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Email and Telephone Directory

Staff Profile

Prof Helen L. Ball, BSc, MA, PhD

Personal web page

Member of the Sleep Lab

(email at h.l.ball@durham.ac.uk)

Biography

Regional Visibility Poster

Helen Ball obtained her PhD in Biological Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1992. Her undergraduate degree was in Human Biology, and her interests span both biology and anthropology. Helen spent several years in the Caribbean where she conducted her PhD fieldwork. Following her appointment as a Lecturer in Anthropology at Durham in 1993 Helen began a programme of research on night-time infant care, established the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab in 2000, and was promoted to Professor of Anthropology in 2007. Broadly defined, her research examines sleep ecology, particularly of infants, young children and their parents. This encompasses attitudes and practices regarding infant sleep, behavioural and physiological monitoring of infants and their parents during sleep, infant sleep development, and the discordance between cultural sleep preferences and biological sleep needs. She has conducted research in hospitals and the community, and contributes to national and international policy and practice guidelines on infant care. See www.dur.ac.uk/sleep.lab/. She pioneers the translation of academic research on infant sleep into evidence for use by parents and healthcare staff via ISIS -- the Infant Sleep Information Source website (www.isisonline.org.uk).

Research Groups

Department of Anthropology

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Research Projects

Department of Anthropology

Research Interests

  • Behaviour and physiology of infant sleep
  • Child sleep and obesity
  • Development of sleep patterns and circadian rhythms
  • Evolutionary medicine
  • Human behaviour: parenting, infant care, infant mortality, SIDS, infanticide
  • Midwifery and postnatal care
  • Infant feeding and sleeping

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

  • Sullivan, S.S. & Ball H.L. (2017). Early Childhood Pediatric Sleep Concerns for Parents: Co-sleeping. In Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology. Stein, John Elsevier.
  • Rudzik, Alanna E.F. & Ball, Helen L. (2016). Baby-Lag: Methods for assessing parental tiredness and fatigue. In Biological measures of human experience across the lifespan: making visible the invisible. Seivert, Lynette Leidy & Brown, Daniel E. Cham: Springer. 29-46.
  • Russell, Charlotte K., Volpe, Lane E. & Ball, Helen L. (2016). Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In Evolutionary thinking in medicine: from research to policy and practice. Alvergne, A., Jenkinson, C. & Faurie, C. Cham: Springer. 61-74.
  • Taylor, Catherine E., Tully, Kristin P. & Ball, Helen L. (2015). Night-time on a postnatal ward: experiences of mothers, infants, and staff. In Ethnographic Research in Maternal and Child Health. Dykes, Fiona C. & Flacking, Renée Routledge. 117-140.
  • Jones, C. & Ball, H.L. (2012). Medical Anthropology and Children’s Sleep: The Mismatch between Western Lifestyles and Sleep Physiology. In Sleep: multi-professional perspectives. Green, A. & Westcombe, A.M. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 86-103.
  • Ball, H.L. & Russell, C.K. (2012). Night-time nurturing: an evolutionary perspective on breastfeeding and sleep. In Evolution, Early Experience and Human Development: From Research to Practice and Policy. Narváez, D., Panksepp, J., Schore, A. & Gleason, T. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 241-261.
  • Ball, H.L. (2008). Evolutionary Paediatrics: a case study in applying Darwinian Medicine. In Medicine and Evolution: Current Applications, Future Prospects. Elton, S. & O'Higgins, P. New York: Taylor & Francis. 127-152.
  • Ball, H.L. & Klingaman, K.P. (2007). Breastfeeding and mother-infant sleep proximity: implications for infant care. In Evolutionary Medicine and Health: New Perspectives. Trevathan, W., Smith, E.O. & McKenna, J.J. New York: Oxford University Press. 226-241.
  • Ball, Helen L. (2006). Night-time infant care: cultural practice, evolution, and infant development. In Childrearing and infant care issues: a cross-cultural perspective. Pranee Liamputtong Melbourne, Australia: Nova. 47-61.
  • Ball, Helen L. & Panter-Brick, C. (2001). Child survival and the modulation of parental investment. In Reproductive Ecology and Human Evolution. Ellison, P. New York: Aldine de Gruyter. 249-266.
  • Ball, H.L. (2000). Babies and Infants Bed-Sharing. In Midwifery Practice in the Post-natal Period. Royal College of Midwives Royal College of Midwifes. 24-26.
  • Ball, H.L., Hooker, E. & Kelly, P.J. (2000). Where will the baby sleep? Attitudes and practices of new and experienced parents regarding cosleeping with their newborn infants. In Annual Editions: Child Growth and Development. Junn E.N. & Boyatzis, C. Dushkin/McGraw Hill. 00/01.
  • Swedlund, A.C. & Ball, H.L. (1998). Nature, Nurture, and the determinates of Childhood Mortality: A case study from Massachusetts, 1830-1920. In Building a New Biocultural Synthesis: Political-Economic and Critical Perspectives on Human Biology. Goodman, A. & Leatherman, T. Michigan, USA: University of Michigan Press. 191-228.
  • Ball, H.L. & Hill, C.M. (1998). Parental manipulation of post-natal survival and well-being -- are parental sex preferences adaptive? In Sex, Gender and Health. Pollard, T.M. & Hyatt, S.B. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 143-151.

Journal Article

  • Ball, Helen L. (2017). Evolution-informed maternal-infant health. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1(3): 0073.
  • Collings, P., Ball, H., Santorelli, G., West, J., Barber, S., McEachan, R. & Wright, J. (2017). Sleep duration and adiposity in early childhood: evidence for bidirectional associations from the Born in Bradford study. SLEEP 40(2): zsw054.
  • Crane, D. & Ball, H.L. (2016). A qualitative study in parental perceptions and understanding of SIDS-reduction guidance in a UK bi-cultural urban community. BMC Pediatrics 16: 23.
  • Ball, H., Howell, D., Bryant, A., Best, E., Russell, C. & Ward-Platt, M. (2016). Bed-sharing by breastfeeding mothers: who bed-shares, and what is the relationship with breastfeeding duration? Acta Paediatrica 105(6): 628-634.
  • Cronin-de-Chavez, Anna, Ball, Helen L. & Ward-Platt, Martin P. (2016). Bi-ethnic infant thermal care beliefs in Bradford, UK. International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare 9(2): 120-134.
  • Rudzik, Alanna E. & Ball, Helen L. (2016). Exploring maternal perceptions of infant sleep and feeding method among mothers in the United Kingdom: A qualitative focus group study. Maternal and Child Health Journal 20(1): 33-40.
  • Russell, Charlotte K. & Ball, Helen L. (2015). Bed-sharing, co-sleeping and parent education--a time for change. International Journal of Birth and Parenting Education 2(2): 19-20.
  • Ball, Helen L. (2015). Empowering families to make informed choices about sleep safety. British Journal of Midwifery 23(3): 164-165.
  • Volpe, Lane E. & Ball, Helen L. (2015). Infant sleep-related deaths: why do parents take risks? Archives of Disease in Childhood 100(7): 603-604
  • Ball, Helen L. (2015). The BMJ illustrates hazardous co-sleeping. BMJ 350: h993.
  • Fairley, Lesley, Santorelli, Gillian, Lawlor, Debbie A., Bryant, Maria, Bhopal, Raj, Petherick, Emily S., Sahota, Pinki, Greenwood, Darren C., Hill, Andrew J., Cameron, Noel, Ball, Helen L., Barber, Sally & Wright, John (2015). The relationship between early life modifiable risk factors for childhood obesity, ethnicity and body mass index at age 3 years: findings from the Born in Bradford birth cohort study. BMC Obesity 2(1): 9.
  • Russell, Charlotte K., Whitmore, Mary, Burrows, Dawn & Ball, Helen L. (2015). Where might my baby sleep? Design and evaluation of a novel discussion tool for parent education. International Journal of Birth and Parenting Education 2(2): 11-15.
  • Jones, Caroline HD, Pollard, Tessa M, Summerbell, CD & Ball, Helen L (2014). Could parental rules play a role in the association between short sleep and obesity in young children? Journal of Biosocial Science 46(3): 405-418.
  • Jones, Caroline H.D. & Ball, Helen L. (2014). Exploring socioeconomic differences in bedtime behaviours and sleep duration in English preschool children. Infant and Child Development 23(5): 518-531.
  • Tully, Kristin P. & Ball, Helen L. (2014). Maternal accounts of their breast-feeding intent and early challenges after caesarean childbirth. Midwifery 30(6): 712-719.
  • Ball, Helen L. (2014). Reframing what we tell parents about normal infant sleep and how we support them. Breastfeeding Review 22(3): 11-12.
  • Ball, H.L. & Russell, C.K. (2014). SIDS & Infant Sleep Ecology. Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health 2014(1): 146.
  • Howel, Denise & Ball, Helen L. (2013). Association between Length of Exclusive Breastfeeding and Subsequent Breastfeeding Continuation. Journal of Human Lactation 29(4): 579-585.
  • Ball, Helen L. & Russell, Charlotte K. (2013). Effect of behavioural-educational intervention on sleep for primiparous women and their infants in early postpartum: multisite randomised controlled trial. Student BMJ 346: f1164.
  • Tully, K.P. & Ball, H.L. (2013). Misrecognition of need women's experiences of and explanations for undergoing cesarean delivery. Social science and medicine 85: 103-111.
  • Jones, C. & Ball, H.L. (2013). Napping in English preschool children and the association with parents’ attitudes. Sleep Medicine 14(4): 352–358.
  • Volpe, L.E., Ball, H.L. & McKenna, J.J. (2013). Nighttime parenting strategies and sleep-related risks to infants. Social Science & Medicine 79: 92-100.
  • Ball, H.L. & Volpe, L.E. (2013). Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) risk reduction and infant sleep location: Moving the discussion forward. Social Science & Medicine 79: 84-91.
  • Ball, H.L. (2013). Supporting parents who are worried about their newborn’s sleep. British medical journal 346: f2344.
  • Tully, K.P. & Ball, H.L. (2013). Trade-offs underlying maternal breastfeeding decisions: a conceptual model. Maternal & Child Nutrition 9(1): 90-98.
  • Ball, H.L., Moya, E. Fairley, L., Westman, J., Oddie, S. & Wright, J. (2012). Bed and sofa-sharing practices in a UK biethnic population. Pediatrics 129(3): e673-e681.
  • Ball, H.L., Moya, E., Fairley, L., Westman, J., Oddie, S. & Wright, J. (2012). Infant care practices related to sudden infants death syndrome in South Asian and White British families in the UK. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 26(1): 3-12.
  • Tully, K.P. & Ball, H.L. (2012). Postnatal Unit Bassinet Types When Rooming-In After Cesarean Section Birth: Implications for Breastfeeding and Infant Safety. Journal of Human Lactation 28(4): 495-505.
  • Ball, H.L. (2012). Sleeping with the baby. Breastfeeding Briefs 53: 1-12.
  • Ball, H.L. (2012). The latest on bed-sharing and breastfeeding. Community Practitioner 85(1): 29-31.
  • Russell, C.K., Howel, D., Ward-Platt, M.P. & Ball, H.L. (2012). Use of interactive telephone technology for longitudinal data collection in a large trial. Contemporary Clinical Trials 33: 364-368.
  • Ball, H.L., Ward-Platt, M.P. Howel, D. & Russell, C.K. (2011). Randomised trial of sidecar crib use on breastfeeding duration (NECOT). Archives of Disease in Childhood 96(7): 630-634.
  • Ball, H.L. (2009). Airway covering during bed-sharing. Child: Care, Health and Development 35(5): 728-737.
  • Ball, H.L. (2009). Bed-sharing and co-sleeping: Research overview. New Digest 48: 22-27.
  • Klingaman (now Tully), K.P. & Ball, H.L. (2009). Practicing evolutionary medicine in a postnatal ward: Ameliorating iatrogenic obstacles to breastfeeding. Anthropology News
  • van den Berg, Martina & Ball, Helen L. (2008). Practices, advice and support regarding prolonged breastfeeding: a descriptive study from Sri Lanka. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology 26(3): 229-243.
  • Klingaman, K. & Ball, H. (2007). Anthropology of caesarean section birth and breastfeeding: Rationale for evolutionary medicine on the postnatal ward. Durham Anthropology Journal 14(1).
  • Ball, Helen L. (2007). Bed-sharing practices of initially breastfed infants in the first 6 months of life. Infant and Child Development 16(4): 387-401.
  • McKenna, James J., Ball, Helen L. & Gettler, Lee T. (2007). Mother–Infant Cosleeping, Breastfeeding and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: What Biological Anthropology Has Discovered About Normal Infant Sleep and Pediatric Sleep Medicine. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 134(S45): 133-161.
  • Ball, Helen L. (2007). Together or apart? A behavioural and physiological investigation of sleeping arrangements for twin babies. Midwifery 23(4): 404-412.
  • Ball, H.L. (2006). Bed-sharing on the post-natal ward: breastfeeding and infant sleep safety. Paediatrics and Child Health 11(Suppl A): 43A-46A.
  • Ball, Helen L. (2006). Caring for twin infants: sleeping arrangements and their implications. Evidence Based Midwifery 4(1): 10-16.
  • Ball, H.L. (2006). Parent-Infant Bed-sharing Behavior: effects of feeding type, and presence of father. Human Nature: an interdisciplinary biosocial perspective 17(3): 301-318.
  • Ball, H.L., Ward-Platt, M.P., Heslop, E., Leech, S.J. & Brown, K.A. (2006). Randomised trial of infant sleep location on the postnatal ward. Archives of Disease in Childhood 91(12): 1005-1010.
  • Wailoo, M., Ball, H.L., Fleming, P.J. & Ward-Platt, M.P. (2004). Infants bed-sharing with mothers: helpful, harmful or don't we know? Archives of Disease in Childhood 89(12): 1082-1083.
  • Blair, P.S. & Ball, H.L. (2004). The prevalence and characteristics associated with parent–infant bed-sharing in England. Archives of Disease in Childhood 89: 1106-1110.
  • Ball, H.L. (2003). Breastfeeding, bed-sharing and infant sleep. Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care 30(3): 181-188.
  • Ball, H.L. (2002). Reasons to bed-share: why parents sleep with their infants. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology 20(4): 207-222.
  • Ball, H.L. (2001). Triadic bed-sharing and infant temperature. Ambulatory Child Health 28(1): 55-58.
  • Ball, H., Hooker, E. & Kelly, P.J. (2000). Parent-Infant Cosleeping: fathers' roles and perspectives. Infant and Child Development 9(2): 67-74.
  • Hooker, E., Ball, H.L. & Kelly, P.J. (2000). Sleeping like a baby: parent-infant cosleeping in North Tees, England. Medical Anthropology 19: 203-222.
  • Ball, H.L., Hooker, E. & Kelly, P.J. (1999). Where will the baby sleep? Attitudes and practices of new and experienced parents regarding cosleeping with their new-born infants. American Anthropologist 101(1): 143-151.
  • Ball, H.L. & Hill, C.M. (1998). Insurance ovulation, embryo mortality and twinning. Journal of Biosocial Science 31(2): 245-255.
  • Ball, H.L. (1997). Daddy’s girl? Anomalous social rank of a female rhesus macaque. Folia Primatologica 68(44-49).
  • Hill, C.M. & Ball, H.L. (1996). Abnormal Births & Other Ill-Omens: The adaptive case for Infanticide. Human Nature 7(4): 381-402.
  • Ball, H.L. & Swedlund, A.C. (1996). Poor Women and Bad Mothers: placing the blame for turn-of-the-century infant mortality. Northeast Anthropology 52: 31-52.
  • Ball, H.L. & Hill, C.M. (1996). Twin Infanticide Revisited. Current Anthropology 37(5): 856-863.

Conference Proceeding

  • Heslop, E., Ball, H.L. & Leech, S.J. (2005). Bedding-in and Rooming-in on the post-natal ward: breastfeeding initiation. Measuring Behavior 2005, Wageningen, NL, Noldus Information Technology.
  • Ball, H.L., Volpe, L.E., Heslop, E. & Leech, S.J. (2005). Observing mother-infant sleep behaviour. Measuring Behavior 2005, Wageningen, NL, Noldus.
  • Ball, H.L. & Hooker, E. (1998). What happens to infants who sleep with their parents?. American Association of Physical Anthropology Annual Meeting, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Ball, H.L. & Hooker, E. (1998). You wanna put a camera in our bedroom? Video observations of parent-infant cosleeping in the home environment. Measuring Behaviour 98, Groningen, NL.

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Ball, H.L. (2002). Bed-sharing Research in Britain. Mothering Magazine (US) Sept.
  • Ward-Platt, M.P. & Ball, H.L. (2002). Rooming-in at the Hospital: Assessing the Practical Considerations. Mothering Magazine (US) Sept(114).

Other (Print)

  • Ball, H.L., Blair, P.S. & Ward-Platt, M.P. (2004). 'New' practice of bedsharing and risk of SIDS (letter). Lancet 363(9420): 1558.
  • Blair, P. Fleming, P.J., Ball, H.L. & Ward-Platt, M.P. (2001). Surprised by publication (letter). Pediatrics 108(5).

Report

  • Ball, H.L. (2002). Risks to infants of sharing the parental bed: a physiological & behavioural study. Final report to Scottish Cot Death Trust. Glasgow.
  • Ball, H.L., Hooker, E. & Heslop, E. (2000). Night-time caregiving and parent-infant sleep strategies in the North East of England. Final Report to Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths. London.

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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Subject specialists: Evolutionary paediatrics
  • Medical and health research topics: Breastfeeding
  • Human biology and development: Infant care practices
  • Infant and child health: Sleep and obesity
  • Medical and health research topics: Health consequences of sleep loss

Supervises