Bed-Sharing Linked to SIDS07/14/14
MONDAY, July 14, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Risk factors for
sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) appear to change with the age
of the infant, researchers say.
They found that younger babies are more likely to die when
they're sharing beds, while older babies face a higher risk of
sudden death when there are objects in the crib with them, such as
pillows and toys.
"This study is the first to show that the risks during sleep may be different for infants of different ages," said lead author Dr. Rachel Moon, associate chief of Children's National Medical Center's division of general pediatrics and community health, in Washington, D.C. "Parents of infants under 4 months of age should be aware that bed-sharing is a huge risk factor."
Parents should also be careful to make sure their infants sleep
without objects around them, she said.
"Parents often forget that as the infant gets older and nothing bad has happened," Moon said. "We need to re-emphasize that the sleep environment needs to be clear even as the infant gets older, particularly as the infant becomes more mobile."
Although this study found an association between bed-sharing or
having objects in the crib and sudden infant death, the study can't
prove that these factors actually caused the deaths of the
And, Moon noted it would be impossible to do such a study. "We
can never do a randomized, controlled trial -- put some babies on
their stomachs for sleep and other babies on their backs for sleep,
and see what happens," Moon said. "That would be unethical."
More than 2,000 babies died of sudden infant death syndrome in
2010 in the United States, the latest year for which statistics are
available, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Ninety percent of the deaths occurred in babies less than 6 months
old, although SIDS and related conditions can strike anytime in the
In the new study, researchers sought to understand how the most
common risk factors affect babies of various ages. To find the
answer, they examined more than 8,000 infant deaths from
sleep-related causes from 24 states for the period from 2004 to
Almost 70 percent of the deaths occurred in babies who were
sharing a bed at the time of their death, the study found. An
object, such as a blanket or a pillow, was found in babies' beds in
about one-third of the deaths.
The babies who died before 4 months of age were most likely to
have been sharing a bed. To a lesser extent, they were also more
likely to be in an adult bed or sleeping on a person.
Young babies don't have the ability to move their heads or
bodies to avoid being suffocated when another person moves in the
same bed, according to the study.
Older babies -- between 4 months and a year -- were somewhat
more likely to have slept with an object like a pillow, blanket or
stuffed animal. "The most dangerous objects are the soft, cushiony
objects -- pillows, bumper pads, blankets, etc.," Moon said. "They
increase risk for SIDS and are also associated with accidental
suffocation. We recommend that nothing be in the crib except for
The older babies were also somewhat more likely to have rolled
onto their back from their side or front. Medical officials advise
parents to put babies to sleep on their backs and
notsleep with them on beds or couches.
More research is needed into SIDS, said Rosemary Horne, a SIDS
specialist and deputy director of the Ritchie Center at Monash
Medical Center's MIMR-PHI Institute of Medical Research in
"More studies need to be done to identify why parents are ignoring safe sleeping advice," she said. "Is it because of poverty and they simply have no safe place for their baby to sleep, or is it because they are receiving incorrect advice from their parents, family members or medical professionals?"
The study was published online July 14 and in the August print
For more about preventing SIDS, visit the
American Lung Association.
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