Dangers Of Bed-Sharing With Babies: Alarming Rates Of Suffocation Or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Recorded

By Olivia Reese, Parent Herald September 27, 09:14 am

Parents sharing a bed with their babies have good intentions. They want to keep their babies close to them as physically possible, or it seems to be the only trick to get the infant to calm down and stop crying.

Some parents also bed-share to reduce broken, sleepless nights whenever their babies cry. Bed-sharing, however, can be dangerous and fatal to infants.

Bed-sharing often causes suffocation or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) to babies, with the latter's cases rising to alarming rates, Romper reported. A 2013 study published in the online journal BMJ Open found that babies who bed-share with their parents are five times more likely to die of SIDS. The research examined data of more than 8,000 infant deaths that occurred between 2004 and 2012 in 24 states.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission strongly advised parents or caregivers against bed-sharing with a baby -- whether it's on a bed, chair, or a sofa, Medical News Today reported. A 2013 study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), however, found that infant bed-sharing instances doubled in numbers in recent years. Bed-sharing rates rose to 13.5 percent in 2010 from 6.5 percent in 1993.

Another study published in the journal Pediatrics found that out of 8,207 infant deaths that took place in 24 U.S. states between 2004 and 2012, 69 percent were due to bed-sharing, according to a separate report from Medical News Today. Dr. Michael Goodstein, a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Pennsylvania State University and a part of the AAP Task Force for SIDS, told the news outlet that bed-sharing increases the risk of overheating, head covering, rebreathing or airway obstruction, and exposure to tobacco smoke.

Other injuries that babies can get from bed-sharing are suffocation, asphyxia, strangulation, falls, and entrapment. Goodstein said that infants -- especially those who are younger than three months, are born prematurely, and/or with low birth weight -- are most vulnerable to dying due to bed-sharing.

This is because these babies still have immature motor skills and muscle strength, which prevent them from evading possible threats. The dangers of bed-sharing are most prominent when the parent or caregiver is tired, has been smoking or drinking alcohol, or if he/she is under the influence of drugs.

Some experts, however, argued that bed-sharing fosters a special bond between the parent and the baby. Physical closeness is important to fulfill an infant's need for warmth, comfort, and security. But other experts believe that the risks of bed-sharing far outweigh its benefits.

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