The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: Bed-Sharing and SIDS

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bed-Sharing and SIDS

Since the late 1980s, studies have indicated that the incidences of SIDS decreased dramatically when parents began to place their infants on their backs to sleep.  However, a new study in the January 2012 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics indicates that an additional risk factor is involved - placing a sleeping infant in the bed with a sleeping parent.  Additionally, the study analyzed the difference between smoking and non-smoking parents as another contributing factor for SIDS when babies are placed in the bed with their parents. 

The 20-year study used 2,464 cases and 6,495 control subjects.  Here's what the very reliable study indicated:

1. There is a direct correlation between bed-sharing and an increased risk for SIDS. 

2. When parents smoked, the risk of SIDS increased even further. (However, they could not separate in utero maternal smoking from those who smoked around their infants.)

3. The risk for SIDS while bed-sharing increased 10X for infants under 12 weeks.  The risk for infants over 12 weeks was not elevated during bed-sharing.  The study indicated that older infants are better able to free themselves from a smothering situation.  The researchers also noted that bed-sharing infants have a higher skin temperature, which may also contribute to SIDS. 

4. Bed sharing during one night when the baby does not routinely share the bed doubles the risk for SIDS.  Researchers suggested that the reason may be because the child is already ill, which would cause the parents to sleep with the child. 

5. Temporary bed sharing for comforting or feeding does not increase the risk for SIDS.

6. Infants who slept with adults on a sofa were at higher risk for SIDS than infants who slept with adults in a bed.

The bottom line:  Bed sharing strongly increases the risk of SIDS..  This risk is greatest when parents smoke and in infants who are under 12 weeks old.  The risk is particularly high with young infants whether the parent smokes or not.

Happy, safe parenting!

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