A recent study published in the Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics found that younger babies that sleep in the same bed as their parents are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes of infant death.
Meanwhile, it was found that older babies are more likely to die of SIDS if there are objects with them in their crib, including toys and pillows.
“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.”
The study investigated over 8,000 infant deaths in 24 states across the U.S. They found that younger babies, which constitutes as newborns that are less than three months old, are 20 percent more likely to die of SIDS if they are sharing a bed.
Older babies were found to be five percent more at risk of suddenly dying in their sleep if toys or objects are in their crib.
“The predominant risk factor for younger infants is bed-sharing, whereas rolling into objects in the sleep area is the predominant risk factor for older infants. Parents should be warned about the dangers of these specific risk factors appropriate to their infant’s age,” wrote the authors of the study.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that over 2,000 babies died of sudden infant death syndrome in the United States in 2010, which is the latest year to show the statistics. Even though SIDS can kill an infant anytime within its first year of life, about 90 percent of the deaths happened before the babies were six months old.
Although the study found associations between bed-sharing and infant deaths, it would be impossible to actually conduct a study on it, since it would put babies in danger.
“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,” noted Dr. Moon. “That would be unethical.”
For more information on the study, check it out for free in the Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics.