Bed-sharing increases risk of sudden infant death

Nineteen percent of mothers often share their bed with their baby, according to a recent USA Today article regarding safe infant sleep practices. From 1993 to 2010, the incidence of co-sleeping has more than doubled from 6.5 percent to 13.5 percent. Bed-sharing greatly increases an infant’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), says Elizabeth Pletz, a nurse with Le Bonheur’s Nurse Family Partnership program. Pletz talks more about the importance of safe sleep below.

Introduction of the national campaign Back to Sleep in 1994 was instrumental in reducing the risk of SIDS by 50 percent. Recent studies show, however, that this decline has stalled, as rates of other sleep-related causes of infant death, such as unintentional suffocation, have increased. In 2012, the campaign was expanded and renamed Safe to Sleep. This new crusade focused on all sleep-related, sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID). Safe sleep practices promoted through the program and recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) include:

  • always place baby on his or her back for every sleep time
  • the baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but never in the same bed
  • avoid using bumper pads and loose bedding for baby’s crib
  • do not let babies overheat
  • keep the baby away from smokers or places where people smoke

SIDS is the primary cause of death for babies ages 1 month to 1 year of age. Although it remains unclear what causes SIDS, there is much evidence that these best practices help to drastically reduce the occurrence. The safest place for an infant while sleeping is alone, on his or her back and in a separate crib near the parents, not in the bed with them.

infant, sleep, safety