Risk of cot deaths rises five times if beds are shared
Sharing a bed with a newborn increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome fivefold new research claims.
The risk applies even if parents avoid tobacco, alcohol and drugs- other factors which are strongly linked to cot deaths.
The BMJ Open research Bed sharing with parents increases the risk of cot death fivefold even if the parents are non-smokers compared nearly 1,500 cot deaths with a control group of more than 4,500 parents.
Current guidance in the UK is that parents should decide where their baby sleeps, but says the safest option is in a crib or cot in the same room.
Many other countries, such as the US and the Netherlands, go further and say parents should not share a bed with their baby for the first three months of his or her life.
Prof Bob Carpenter, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, carried out the analysis and says the UK should now follow suit and “take a more definitive stance against bed-sharing for babies under three months”.
Prof Carpenter maintains avoiding bed-sharing would save lives – by his calculations, 120 of the 300 cot deaths that occur in the UK each year.
Current advice on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Place your baby on their back to sleep.
- Cut smoking in pregnancy, including dads. Don’t let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby.
- The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a crib or cot in a room with you for the first six months.
- Never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair.
- Do not let your baby get too hot, and keep their head uncovered.
Source: The Lullaby Trust
In his analysis, one or both parents had been sleeping with their child at the time of death in a fifth of cases.
Only one in every 10 parents in the control group said they had shared a bed with their baby.
Even in very low-risk breastfed babies, where there were no risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) other than that they had slept in their parents’ bed, 81% of cot deaths in infants under three months of age could have been prevented by not bed sharing.
Prof Carpenter says he is not suggesting that babies should be banned from being in the parents’ bed for comfort and feeding.