Barrington, IL - Sleep is one of the most common concerns for a new parent but safe sleeping is always at the top of the list. Many parents try bed sharing, which essentially means the child sleeps with his or her parents in their bed— with the hope of getting a few extra winks of sleep themselves and having the baby closer. Up until this point, there hasn’t been much clarity in the research about bed sharing often leaving parents confused about the safety of bed sharing.
New research, published online in BMJ Open, shows that sharing a bed with an infant can significantly increase their risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is an unexpected, sudden death of a child under age 1 in which an autopsy does not show an explainable cause of death.
Pediatrician Dr. John Beckerman at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill. says its important parents understand the risks associated with bed sharing and the dangers of SIDS.
"The importance of this new study, the largest study of SIDS risk factors ever with individual level data, is that it allowed researchers to quantify the risk factors for bed sharing. An important conclusion is that bed sharing with an infant under three months increases the risk for SIDS by a factor of five. This will definitely assist doctors on advising parents to avoid bed sharing with infants."
Interestingly, the research also concluded that there is an increased SIDS risk even if parents are non-smokers and do not abuse illegal drugs or drink alcohol before bedtime.
"We have known in the past that parental smoking and drinking increased the risk for SIDS but this research finds bed sharing overall is simply not safe for the infant," said Beckerman.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following recommendations for parents: