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Sharing a Bed With Infants Raises SIDS Risk

Even With Nonsmoking Parents, Bed Sharing Raises SIDS Risk
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WebMD Health News

July 8, 2005 -- Sharing a bed or even a couch with a young infant may increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), according to a new study.

While experts cannot predict SIDS, risk factors include bed sharing with a parent who smokes. This study suggests that bed sharing, even with nonsmoking parents, also increases the risk of SIDS in infants less than 11 weeks old.

SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants 1 month to 1 year old. The highest number of SIDS cases occur from 2 to 4 months; 91% of cases occur between 1 and 6 months of age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Although the cause of SIDS is unknown, placing an infant to sleep on his or her stomach, exposure to smoking, and use of soft pillows or bedding have been identified as major risk factors.

Researchers say the results of this study show that sharing a couch to sleep, sleeping in a room alone, and sleeping in bed with parent are also associated with an increased risk of SIDS.

"The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot [crib] in your room for the first six months," states researcher David Tappin, MD, MPH, of the University of Glasgow, in a news release.

Bed Sharing and SIDS

In the study, which appears in the July issue of The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers evaluated 123 SIDS cases in Scotland from 1996 to 2000.

The parents of the infants provided information about the infant's daily routine, such as where they normally slept, and the circumstances of their death. Researchers then compared this information with the habits of 263 healthy babies.

The study showed that there was a link between SIDS, bed sharing, couch sharing, and the location of the infants when they died, especially among infants less than 11 weeks old, regardless of how long they shared the sleeping space or their exposure to smoke.

The results showed that only 11% of the infants were reported to routinely sleep in their parents' bed compared with only 5% of healthy babies.

They also show that more than half (52%) of the SIDS babies had shared a bed/cot/couch or other surface at some point during the day or night that they died. Within the healthy babies group only 20% shared sleeping space with a parent during their last sleep.

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