Sleeping in Adult Bed Puts Baby at Risk
Infant Suffocation Risk Up to 40 Times higher in Bed vs. Crib
Oct. 6, 2003 -- As much as parents may want to be close to
their children, putting baby to sleep in the same bed with them may be a
A new study shows that babies who are put to sleep in adult
beds are as much as 40 times more likely to die from suffocation than those
babies who sleep in cribs.
"The odds of death go up dramatically among babies who use
adult beds," says researcher James Kemp, MD, associate professor of
pediatrics at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, in a news release.
"Granted, you want to be close to your baby at night time.
But we don't think babies should be in adult beds," says Kemp. "This
has to be a risk assessment and it remains a terrible idea to share an adult
bed with a baby."
Comparing Infant Suffocation Risks
About 13%-14% of parents say they share beds with their babies,
and researchers say this is the first study to compare the risk of suffocation
for infants who sleep in cribs, adult beds, or on sofas.
Researchers reviewed all reports of accidental suffocation
among infants that were reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
from 1980 through 1983 and 1995 through 1998. They also used survey information
on sleep location collected by the National Institute of Child Health and Human
Development to calculate the risk of suffocation in cribs, adult beds, and on
sofas or chairs.
The study showed that the number of infant suffocation deaths
dropped from 192 to 107 from the 1980s to the 1990s, but the number of
suffocation deaths in adult beds increased from 152 to 391 during the same
period. The number of suffocations reported on sofas and chairs also rose from
33 to 110.
Researchers say that infant suffocation deaths in adult beds
were more than eight times more likely to be reported in the 1990s than in the
1980s, and infant deaths on sofas and chairs were more than 17 times more
likely to be reported.
Overall, the study showed that the risk of suffocation for
babies in cribs was .63 deaths per 100,000 infants compared to 25.5 deaths per
100,000 infants who suffocate in adult beds from 1995 to 1998.
The complete results appear in the October issue of
Researchers say younger infants may be at the greatest risk for
dying in adult beds because they lack the motor skills to escape potential
threats to their safety, such as soft bedding or being trapped between the bed
and the wall.
"For beds not designed for infants, it is difficult to
control potential hazardous arrangements causing suffocation," says
'Back to Sleep' Is Only the Beginning
The researchers say that although parents are now more aware of
the dangers of putting their babies to sleep on their stomach, they may not be
aware of the risks of putting them to sleep in places other than their
"While sleep position plays an importing role in keeping
babies safe, it is only part of the solution," says Kemp. "Putting a
baby to sleep in an adult bed is dangerous, and a risk that parents don't have
to take. A sleeping baby belongs in a crib or other approved baby bed."
Since 1992 the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended
that parents put their babies to sleep on their back to reduce the risk of
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Since that awareness campaign, the number
of SIDS deaths has been cut nearly in half.