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Bed sharing increases SIDS risk by up to five times.

Parents who bed share with young babies face a fivefold increase in the risk of cot death. This increase is even found in those parents who do not smoke.

The research, which was led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, examined the records of 1,472 cot deaths and 4,679 'control' cases.

Scientists found the risk of cot death among breastfed babies under three months increased with bed sharing, even when parents did not smoke and the mother had not consumed alcohol or drugs.

It is estimated 81% of cot deaths among babies under three months with no other risk factors could have been prevented had they not slept in the same bed as their parents.

The study, published in BMJ Open, shows the risk associated with bed sharing decreases as a baby gets older, with the peak period for instances of cot death between seven and 10 weeks.

Lead author of the study, Professor Bob Carpenter from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said more than half of cot deaths in the UK today occur while a baby is sleeping in the same bed as its parents.

'If parents were made aware of the risks of sleeping with their baby, and room sharing was instead promoted in the same way that the 'Back to Sleep' campaign was promoted 20 years ago to advise parents to place their newborn infants to sleep on their backs, we could achieve a substantial reduction in cot death rates in the UK,' he said.

'Annually there are around 300 cot death cases in babies under a year old in the UK, and this advice could save the lives of up to 40% of those. Health professionals need to make a definite stand against all bed sharing, especially for babies under three months.'

Unite/CPHVA Professional Officer, Gavin Fergie, said: 'The research confirms what we knew already around the risks of bed sharing with infants. Resources provided by the Lullaby Trust on close proximity sleeping is quite robust and we bow to its knowledge and expertise as the main voluntary support for families who have to cope with a sudden and unexpected infant death.'

Francine Bates OBE, Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust (formerly FSID), welcomed the study's findings.

'All Lullaby Trust resources for parents and professionals include information that bed sharing, under certain circumstances, increases the risk of SIDS and we will be incorporating [the study's] new findings into the evidence base which informs our recommendations,' she said.

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Title Annotation:NEWS ROUND-UP; sudden infant death syndrome
Publication:Community Practitioner
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 1, 2013
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