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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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Bed Sharing Raises SIDS Risk Threefold

Of the SIDS infants who shared a bed during their last sleep, 87% were found dead in their parents' beds.

Sharing a sleep surface was associated with a nearly threefold increased risk of SIDS.

Researchers say the relationship between bed sharing or couch sharing and SIDS was especially strong among infants less than 11 weeks old, regardless of maternal smoking. The risk remained high with SIDS for breastfeeding mothers who shared a bed with infants.

Seventy-two percent of the SIDS infants who were found in their parent's bed were less than 11 weeks old.

Researchers say sleeping between parents may put extra stress on the infant and could put the baby too close to or underneath pillows or blankets.

Although previous studies have linked sleeping in a separate room with a higher risk of SIDS among very young infants, this study showed sleeping in a separate room did not increase the risk of SIDS unless the parents were smokers.

Bed Sharing and Breastfeeding

Researchers say some breastfeeding advocates promote bed sharing as a breastfeeding aid and have pointed to research that shows bed sharing raises the risk of SIDS only if the parents smoke.

However, this study showed that there was an increased risk of SIDS among babies who were breastfed, even among nonsmoking parents.

In an editorial that accompanies the study, Bradley Thatch, MD, of Washington University of Pediatrics, writes that the bed sharing controversy will continue but this study provides much needed scientific evidence for the ongoing debate.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations on safe sleep practices for infants include:

  • Always put healthy babies to sleep on their backs for naps and at bedtime.
  • Avoid overheating: Never cover baby's head with a blanket, keep room temperature at 68 degrees to 72 degrees F, and do not overdress baby.
  • Do not have more then one baby per crib.

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