Sharing parents' bed is cot death risk.
MORE than half of cot deaths happen when a baby is sleeping with a parent.
Researchers said it could be linked to the adult having been drinking or taking drugs.
Despite a dramatic drop in the rate of cot death in the UK since the early 1990s, experts are advising parents to avoid dangerous co-sleeping arrangements in order to help reduce these deaths even further.
A team of researchers at the Bristol and Warwick universities studied all unexpected infant deaths - aged from birth to two years - in the south west of England from January 2003 to December 2006.
To investigate a possible link between cot death and socioeconomic deprivation, they compared these deaths with a control group at "high risk" - young, socially deprived mothers who smoked - as well as a randomly selected control group.
The parents were interviewed shortly after the death and information was collected on alcohol and drug use.
A detailed investigation of the scene and circumstances of death was also conducted by trained professionals.
Of the 80 cot deaths analysed, more than half (54%) occurred while co-sleeping compared to one-fifth (20%) co-sleeping rate among both control groups.
Much of this risk may be explained by the combination of parental alcohol or drug use prior to co-sleeping (31% compared with 3% random controls), and the high proportion of co-sleeping deaths on a sofa (17% compared with 1% random controls), say the authors.
A fifth of cot death infants were found with a pillow and a quarter were swaddled, suggesting potentially new risk factors emerging.
The researchers said some of the safety messages were getting across to parents and may have contributed to the continued fall in the cot death rate.
Most sleeping deaths occurred in a hazardous environment.
The safest place for an infant to sleep is in a cot beside the parental bed in the first six months of life, the study published on bmj.com said.
The term sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) was introduced in 1969 as a recognised category of natural death that carried no implication of blame for bereaved parents.
. Call NHS Wales Direct on 0845 46 47 with health concerns
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|Publication:||Daily Post (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Oct 17, 2009|
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