Researchers in the UK have found that babies who sleep in their parents’ bed are five times more likely to die of sudden death syndrome compared with those who sleep on their own cot. Bed sharing has been on a rise despite several warnings that parents avoid bed sharing as much as possible. This is especially for parents who are smokers or have been drinking or taking drugs.
The research found out that accidental suffocation may be blamed for the baby’s death, especially when the baby is just three months old. Experts opine that the safest place for a baby to sleep in is in the cot. Bob Carpenter, who led the study, said that about 120 babies a year may be saved if the parents stopped bed sharing.
The Lullaby Trust supports parental choice but we would also urge every new mother and father to weigh up the known risks of sharing a bed with their baby and, in light of their own situation, take appropriate precautions.
‘We have also known for many years that parental smoking is a very significant risk factor for SIDS and that bed sharing with a parent who smokes, has drunk alcohol or taken drugs, dramatically increases a baby’s chances of dying.
‘Professor Carpenter’s paper provides us with even more evidence of the dangers, identifying a 65-fold increase in SIDS risk for two week old babies who share a bed with parents who both smoke.
‘Our core message remains that the safest place for a baby to sleep for the first six months is in a crib or cot in the same room as a parent or carer.’
A spokesman for the NHS watchdog Nice said it was reviewing guidance on sudden infant death syndrome. ‘Sleeping alongside a baby increases the risks to the child - including death.
‘We currently recommend that doctors, midwives and nurses should warn parents of the risks of sleeping alongside a baby in a bed.
‘The safest place for a baby to sleep is in a cot in their parents’ room for the first six months.’
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