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Durham Infancy & Sleep Centre

Qualitative (interview) study of infant care in Bradford

This study was conducted in collaboration with the Born in Bradford study and was a qualitative follow-up investigation to the BradICS quantitative study. The BradICS study explored the variability between white British and South Asian families (the vast majority were of Pakistani origin) in Bradford, West Yorkshire in the UK focusing on well-known Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) related infant care behaviours. Utilising an evolutionary perspective this research qualitatively explored the infant care practices in relation to SIDS between white British and Pakistani mothers in Bradford. It was considered important to recognise the social and cultural environment where infant care is performed together with people’s perceptions of motherhood and infancy to fully understand infant care practices adopted in the family micro-environment.


This study employed the method of focused narrative interviews with 25 white British and 21 Pakistani mothers (n=46). In addition all quantitative socio-demographic information regarding the participants was obtained direct from the mothers and from the main Born in Bradford database.


Several differences were noted between the white British and Pakistani families regarding parental smoking, alcohol consumption and the overall family network and environment. Variations were noted between the two groups for infant night and day time sleep locations, sleep positions and the overall sleep environment as well as infant care practices of sofa sharing, bathing and pacifier use. Differences were also noted between the white British and Pakistani families for parental concerns regarding infant temperature together with the use of infant temperature monitors and baby intercom monitors. Additionally, perceptions of motherhood and infancy showed variation between the white British and Pakistani mothers which influenced certain aspects of infant care.


The social and cultural ecology together with a mother’s perceptions of motherhood and infancy influence how mothers negotiate the SIDS prevention guidelines; either adopting, dismissing or adapting the health care advice regarding infant care in relation to SIDS.

This project was conducted by Dr Denise Crane for her PhD in Anthropology at Durham University completed in 2014. It was funded by a joint ESRC/MRC studentship and supervised by Dr Helen Ball, Dr Eduardo Moya and Dr Peter Collins. The project produced the following publication:

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.

“They go on about smoking and we don’t smoke cigarettes and drinking alcohol (laughs). They should know it’s not even something a good Pakistani woman would even think about doing so they should acknowledge our ways more and not just the English ways. All the stuff seems to be geared to the English mums really and it doesn’t seem relevant for the Pakistani mums so it’s hard to really take note of what you should do cos most of the stuff isn’t really what we would do anyway...”