Co-Sleeping and Infant Death Part I | What We know

I’m going to spend a little time today on a topic I usually prefer to leave alone—co-sleeping. I’ve been reading up on some of the most recent sleep research on co-sleeping—and it’s not good. Research published in BMJ Open, led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, recently found that parents who “share a bed” (i.e. co-sleep) with their breastfed baby may face as much as a fivefold increase in the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as crib death or cot death.

Today, I’ll explore the known relationship between SIDS and co-sleeping. Next time, I’ll go over the newest research on the subject.

SIDS and Sleep

SIDS is a major cause of death in high-income countries for babies under a year of age. Sleeping with a baby is known to cause an increased risk of SIDS if the parents smoke or the mother has been drinking alcohol or using drugs—in those cases, adult sleep can be heavier and increase risk of infant death from smothering or crushing. The picture gets murkier in cases of healthy adults, not under the influence, sleeping with healthy babies as in the case of a breastfeeding mother.

The U.S. and the Netherlands, among other countries, advise all parents not to share a bed with infants under the age of three months. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, only recommends that certain groups, such as parents who smoke, avoid co-sleeping.

What do you think? Does co-sleeping increase the risk of death for young babies?

Author Bio: +Michelle Gordon is a sleep expert who researches and writes about sleep and health, and is an online publisher for the latex mattress specialist