Bed Sharing Increases Crib Death- Report

Parents who share a bed with their breastfed baby could face a fivefold increase in the risk of crib death, even if the parents do not smoke, according to a new study. The research was led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and is published in BMJ Open.

Crib death, also known as cot death or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDs), remains a major cause of death among babies under 1 year of age in high income countries. There is already a general consensus that sleeping with a baby increases the risk of cot death if the parents smoke or if the mother has been drinking alcohol or taking drugs. However, there are conflicting opinions as to whether bed sharing in general represents a risk when these factors are not present.

Some countries, including the US and the Netherlands, advise all parents against sharing a bed with their baby for the first 3months. The UK currently only advises certain groups, including parents who are smokers, not to bed share.

The new study is the largest ever analysis of its kind. Researchers examined the individual records of 1,472 cot death cases and 4,679 control cases across five major studies. They found that the risk of cot death among breastfed babies under 3 months increased with bed sharing, even when the parents did not smoke and the mother had not consumed alcohol or drugs. This fivefold increase was in comparison to room sharing, where a baby slept in a cot in the parents’ room.

The researchers estimate that 81% of cot deaths among babies fewer than 3 months with no other risk factors could be prevented if they did not sleep in the same bed as their parents.

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