Bed-Sharing Linked to SIDS
Study also finds risk factors for sleep-related death vary with baby's age
Almost 70 percent of the deaths occurred in babies who were sharing a bed at the time of their death, the study found. An object, such as a blanket or a pillow, was found in babies' beds in about one-third of the deaths.
The babies who died before 4 months of age were most likely to have been sharing a bed. To a lesser extent, they were also more likely to be in an adult bed or sleeping on a person.
Young babies don't have the ability to move their heads or bodies to avoid being suffocated when another person moves in the same bed, according to the study.
Older babies -- between 4 months and a year -- were somewhat more likely to have slept with an object like a pillow, blanket or stuffed animal. "The most dangerous objects are the soft, cushiony objects -- pillows, bumper pads, blankets, etc.," Moon said. "They increase risk for SIDS and are also associated with accidental suffocation. We recommend that nothing be in the crib except for the baby."
The older babies were also somewhat more likely to have rolled onto their back from their side or front. Medical officials advise parents to put babies to sleep on their backs and not sleep with them on beds or couches.
More research is needed into SIDS, said Rosemary Horne, a SIDS specialist and deputy director of the Ritchie Center at Monash Medical Center's MIMR-PHI Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia.
"More studies need to be done to identify why parents are ignoring safe sleeping advice," she said. "Is it because of poverty and they simply have no safe place for their baby to sleep, or is it because they are receiving incorrect advice from their parents, family members or medical professionals?"
The study was published online July 14 and in the August print issue of Pediatrics.