by Sue Hubbard, M.D.
There has been another newsworthy article that may support changes in the parental perception of risks associated with co-sleeping with their babies. The British Medical Journal reported this month that more than half of the SIDS (sudden infant deaths) in 80 infants in southwestern England between 2003 and 2006 occurred while the baby had been co-sleeping with a parent.
There have been many studies and developments in previous years relating to the prevention of SIDS, with ongoing research to hopefully one day solve the puzzle surrounding sudden infant death.
The public awareness of risk factors for SIDS, which include tummy sleeping, have reduced the incidence of SIDS from one in 800 live births 20 years ago, to one in 2,000 today. Other risk factors for SIDS include maternal smoking, having soft objects in the infant’s crib (such as pillows and blankets), and pre-term birth. Protective factors such as the use of a pacifier and ceiling fans has also recently been encouraged. The “back to sleep” campaign has probably had the greatest effect in reducing SIDS.
With this study of the SIDS infants, 54 percent died while co-sleeping, compared with 20 percent among the control groups. The infants who were co-sleeping had been sharing a bed or sofa with a parent or child at the time of their death. There was also an association with alcohol or drug use among the parents who had been co-sleeping with their infants.
Once again parents need to be reminded that co-sleeping with infants is dangerous. This study re-iterates previous studies which have also shown infant deaths after co-sleeping with parents. Having a baby in a bassinet with a firm mattress, next to the parental bed, is the preferred recommendation for the first four to eight weeks after birth. BACK TO SLEEP is always to be remembered.