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GOLD Learning Speakers

United Kingdom

Helen Ball, BSc, MA, PhD

  • Speaker Type: Infant Sleep Lecture Pack 2015, , GOLD Perinatal 2014, Infant Sleep Symposium 2020
  • Country: United Kingdom

Helen Ball trained in Human Biology and Biological Anthropology, obtaining her PhD at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1992. She established the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab at Durham University in 2000, was promoted to Professor in 2007 and served as Head of the Anthropology Department 2013-2016.

Her research examines the sleep ecology of infants and their parents including attitudes and practices regarding infant sleep, behavioral 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 conducts research in hospitals and the community and contributes to national and international policy and practice guidelines on infant care.

In 2016 she was appointed as Chair of the Scientific Committee for the Lullaby Trust, and in 2018 Durham University received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education for Helen’s research and outreach work. She is a Board Member of ISPID (the International Society for the Study and Prevention of Infant Deaths) and directs the Durham Infancy & Sleep Centre (DISC) and Baby Sleep Information Source (Basis).

CE Library Presentation(s) Available Online:
This Presentation is Currently Offline
How do Digital Age parents cope with their infants at night?
The sleep of young babies is biologically driven, firstly by feeding patterns and the limitations of brain development, and over time by an emerging circadian clock. The sleep patterns of parents are environmentally driven, by work and social schedules, 24-hour culture and use of digital technology. How do parents ‘manage’ night-time infant care and the sleep conflicts inherent in contemporary life? How are digital media influencing parental knowledge, expectations, and behaviour? Our research finds an emerging dichotomy in maternal ‘sleep narratives’ that are reinforced by the use of phone apps to monitor and manage infant sleep, online discussions where mothers share their experiences and techniques, and websites promoting infant sleep products. The potential for using digital media to inform parents about babies’ biological needs at night will be explored using examples from our experiences of developing and implementing website, phone app, social media and video podcast information sources for infant sleep.
This Presentation is Currently Offline
Sleep Ecology and Development in Early Infancy
In this talk we will explore research that examines normal infant sleep development and consider the factors that affect infant sleep such as what babies are fed, where they sleep, and how we interact with them. We will compare human babies with those of other mammals and think about the ways in which biology leads to different caregiving needs and styles. Using the research we have conducted at Durham Parent-Infant Sleep Lab, and that of other infant sleep researchers, we will consider what we know about parental attitudes and practices regarding night-time infant care, and practical issues such as parental tiredness, bedsharing, and sleep safety. Please note, that this presentation is based on the research evidence up to 2013/2014 but has not been updated.
Hours / CE Credits: 1.25 (details)  |  Categories: Sleep
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Babies In Boxes: The Hype, The Reality And The Evidence
Many assumptions exist about the origins and purpose of baby-boxes and their use as a safe infant sleep space; this misinformation needs correcting, especially as it relates to SIDS-reduction. Baby-box schemes take multiple forms from those motivated by social welfare to those motivated by commercial profit. Programmes offering carboard baby boxes to parents in England began in some NHS Trusts in 2016. We examined the pros and cons of English baby-box schemes via an independent evaluation conducted using telephone interviews and online surveys with healthcare providers and parents in all 7/9 NHS regions of England where baby-box schemes were established 2017-2019. The objectives were to produce recommendations for organisations considering involvement in future schemes. We found baby-box schemes changed over time, and were complex to run and monitor. Both parents and practitioners were misinformed about their purpose and origins. The English experience of partnership schemes between healthcare facilities and commercial box-providers reveals some success stories, along with multiple points of ambiguity, unanticipated difficulty, and concerns for infant safety. Sixteen recommendations are proposed for healthcare providers and organisations considering commercial - health-provider baby-box partnerships in future.
Lectures by Profession, Product Focus
Presentations: 5  |  Hours / CE Credits: 5  |  Viewing Time: 8 Weeks
Hours / CE Credits: 1 (details)  |  Categories: (IBCLC) Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology, Infant Sleep