Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
Bed-sharing between parents and a baby is associated with a five-fold increase in the risk that an infant could die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. The risk, according to a new study published in the journal BMJ Open, is the same even in households where parents do not smoke, take drugs, or drink alcohol–the factors that have been previously associated with SIDS. More from MedPageToday.com:
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 ratio 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.
Advice on bed-sharing varies by country, but “there is general acceptance that sleeping with a baby is a risk factor for SIDS when sleeping … in a bed if the mother smokes and/or has taken alcohol,” the authors explained. But there’s less consensus on whether bed-sharing is still a problem with the absence of these risk factors.
The study combined five major case-control trials conducted in the U.K. and Europe, as well as in Australia and surrounding countries, that included 1,472 infant SIDS deaths and 4,679 controls, making it the largest study of SIDS risk factors ever reported, according to the authors.
Bed-sharing was defined as sleeping in the same bed with one or both parents, while room-sharing was defined as sleeping in a crib in the same room as a parent.
Updated 5/22/13 to remove the reference to “co-sleeping.” While “co-sleeping” and “bed-sharing” are sometimes used interchangeably, there are methods of co-sleeping that are safe, while studies such as the one discussed in this post show the dangers of bed-sharing.
Image: Baby in bed, via Shutterstock
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Monday, November 26th, 2012
Federal officials from two agencies are warning that “baby sleep positioners,” mat- or wedge-shaped bolsters that are supposed to encourage babies to sleep on their backs, are actually quite dangerous and are responsible for at least 13 deaths in the past 15 years. The New York Times has more:
“We urge parents and caregivers to take our warning seriously and stop using these sleep positioners,” Inez Tenenbaum, the chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said in a statement.
The sleep positioner devices come primarily in two forms. One is a flat mat with soft bolsters on each side. The other, known as a wedge-style positioner, looks very similar but has an incline, keeping a child in a very slight upright position.
Makers of the devices claim that by keeping infants in a specific position as they sleep, they can prevent several conditions, including acid reflux and flat head syndrome, a deformation caused by pressure on one part of the skull. Many are also marketed to parents as a way to help reduce a child’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, which kills thousands of babies every year, most between the ages of 2 months and 4 months.
But the devices have never been shown in studies to prevent SIDS, and they may actually raise the likelihood of sudden infant death, officials say. One of the leading risk factors for sudden infant death is placing a baby on his or her stomach at bedtime, and health officials have routinely warned parents to lay babies on their backs. They even initiated a “Back to Sleep” campaign in the 1990s, which led to a sharp reduction in sudden infant deaths.
With the positioner devices, if an infant rolls onto the stomach, the child’s mouth and nose can press up against a bolster or some other part of the device, leading to suffocation. Even if placed on the back, a child can move up or down in the positioner, “entrapping its face against a bolster or becoming trapped between the positioner and the crib side,” Gail Gantt, a nurse consultant with the Food and Drug Administration, said in an e-mail. Or the child might scoot down the wedge in a way that causes the child’s mouth and nose to press into the device.
Image: Sleeping baby, via Shutterstock
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Friday, November 18th, 2011
In the wake of a spate of infant deaths among those who were “co-sleeping” in a bed next to their parents, Milwaukee officials have launched an aggressive ad campaign designed to shock parents into heeding safe sleep recommendations.
Nine infants have died in the city this year, the latest just 7 weeks old, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The ad the city unveiled depicts an infant in a bed next to a large butcher knife, alongside a caption that reads, “Your baby sleeping with you can be just as dangerous.” The city has set a goal of reducing the infant death rate to an historic low by 2017, including eliminating racial disparities in the death rate.
From the Journal Sentinel:
“We as adults who love babies love the thought of a baby in bed,” [Milwaukee Mayor Tom] Barrett said.
“Cuddling a baby is very nurturing,” he said.
But if it takes a raw message to get the point across that babies must sleep alone, on their backs, in their own cribs, the ad is not too shocking, the mayor said.
“Co-sleeping deaths are the most preventable form of infant death in this community,” Barrett said.
“Is it shocking? Is it provocative?” asked Baker, the health commissioner.
“Yes. But what is even more shocking and provocative is that 30 developed and underdeveloped countries have better (infant death) rates than Milwaukee.”
(image via: http://www.jsonline.com/)
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Friday, November 11th, 2011
A two-month-old baby boy died last week in Toledo after his mother fell asleep in bed with him while breastfeeding. Toledo’s WTOL News reports that the mother woke to discover the baby was not breathing. Paramedics could not revive the infant.
NPR.org summarizes the current recommendations for how to help an infant sleep safely and avoid such a tragedy:
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Co-sleeping is a catch-all term that needs to be broken down into subcategories. Sharing a room and sharing a bed are quite different practices.
The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) recognizes this distinction. It advises that infants should always sleep on their backs and on a firm surface, and on the issue of co-sleeping, recommends that “the baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).” The idea is that room-sharing embraces the benefit of close monitoring of the baby but avoids any risk of a parent inadvertently rolling over on the child.
Without a doubt, alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use by the parent, or low birth weight in the infant, make bed-sharing too risky.
Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), where infants die of unexplained cause before age 1, has declined dramatically since 1992, when the American Academy of Pediatrics started recommending that babies be placed on their backs to sleep. But at its annual meeting in Boston this week, the AAP said that sleep-related deaths for other reasons, including entrapment or suffocation, have been on the rise, prompting the group to issue new guidelines for safe sleep.
The group made the following recommendations:
- Always place your baby on his or her back for every sleep time.
- Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
- The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).
- Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, and bumper pads.
- Wedges and positioners should not be used.
- Pregnant woman should receive regular prenatal care.
- Don’t smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
- Breastfeeding is recommended.
- Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
- Avoid covering the infant’s head or overheating.
- Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Infants should receive all recommended vaccinations.
- Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to facilitate development and minimize the occurrence of positional plagiocephaly (flat heads).
For more, visit the AAP website http://www.healthychildren.org/.
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