Meet James McKenna, PhD

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Meet James McKenna, PhD

Hello. My name Dr. Jim McKenna. I am a professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. I'm probably best known at the University of Notre Dame for teaching one of the most popular courses on campus, which is Irish-American tap. I actually have been teaching tap dancing since I was about 22. But I have danced for most of my life, and if there is something that defines me, it probably isn't infant sleep and/or maternal breast feeding patterns, etc., However, after the birth of my son, I was privileged to move into a rather new area, studying infant sleep and trying to determine if recent cultural patterns on separation and an emphasis on bottle feeding had something to do with this very strange but tragic syndrome called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. I was very lucky to be one of the first people to actually look at what happens to mothers and babies when they sleep together and feel very proud of the fact that we're able to document tremendous benefits and indeed to rather validate the fact that mother infant co-sleeping with breast feeding is the normal human pattern.
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James McKenna, PhD

Anthropologist & Author

Professor James J. McKenna is recognized as the world’s leading authority on mother-infant co-sleeping, in relationship to breastfeeding and SIDS. In recognition of his work in 2009 he was admitted as a Fellow into the select body of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's most prestigious scientific society. That same year and in recognition of his extensive work with television, radio, and print media he received from the American Anthropological Association the “2008 Anthropology In The Media Award” one of the top three awards presented to anthropologists by the association in recognition of his distinguished work in educating the public to the importance of anthropological concepts. He received his undergraduate degree in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1970, his Master's Degree from San Diego State University in 1972, and his PhD in biological anthropology from the University of Oregon, Eugene, in 1975. Professor McKenna has published over 139 refereed scientific articles in diverse medical and anthropological journals on co-sleeping, breastfeeding, evolutionary medicine and SIDS, and both here and abroad he gives over 20 lectures especially to pediatric groups and parents. Here in the United States he remains one of the primary spokesperson to the media on issues pertaining to sleeping arrangements, nighttime breast-feeding and SIDS prevention. He has also published two monographs on SIDS and infant sleep, and co-edited two books:  Evolutionary Medicine and Evolutionary Medicine And Health: New Perspectives. His first trade book for parents was published in 2008 entitled: Sleeping With Your Baby: A Parents Guide To Co-Sleeping, and was recently translated and available in Spanish and Dutch.

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