When neither parent smoked, and the baby was breastfed, less than 3-months old, and had no other major SIDS risk factors, the adjusted odds radio for bed-sharing versus room-sharing was still 5.1 (2.3 to 11.4), reported Robert Carpenter PhD, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues, in the online journal BMJ Open.
The estimated absolute risk for bed-sharing compared with room-sharing was 0.23/1,000 live births (0.11 to 0.43) versus 0.08/1,000 live births, they added.
Nine out of 10 SIDS deaths that involved sleeping with a parent or caregiver would not have occurred in the absence of bed-sharing, the researchers concluded.
That’s a pretty dramatic finding and one that will not be popular among bed sharing advocates who have long maintained that bed sharing can be done safely. The standard school of thought is that bed-sharing on a firm surface without loose pillows or blankets is safe as long as parent don’t smoke, drink or use drugs. This study, which looked at 1,472 infant SIDS deaths and 4,679 controls contradicts that thinking almost universally in the case of infants younger than 3 months of age.
Since 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended room sharing for infants but not bed sharing. These findings support that position.
Obviously, every family needs to make their own choices but I think this study makes a compelling case for keeping young babies in a separate sleep space.
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