Co-sleeping causes 133 accidental deaths among babies every year

The chance of sudden death goes up if a parent smokes, has drunk alcohol or taken drugs or is very tired, experts say

Sarah Young
Monday 29 January 2018 14:28
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The risk of sleep-related infant deaths while co-sleeping is far more common than previously thought
The risk of sleep-related infant deaths while co-sleeping is far more common than previously thought

More than 130 babies die each year as a result of accidents while sharing a bed with their parents, new data has revealed.

An average of 133 babies have died each year over the past five years in cases where co-sleeping is a factor, according Department for Education data.

It revealed 141 children died while co-sleeping in 2017, compared with 131 in 2016, 121 in 2015, 141 in 2014 and 131 in 2013.

The data suggests the risk of sleep-related infant deaths while co-sleeping is far more common than previously thought.

“Some parents choose to share a bed with their baby but we recommend they keep in mind the risk factors,” Francine Bates of the Lullaby Trust, told the Daily Mirror.

“The chance of sudden death goes up when bed-sharing if a parent smokes, has drunk alcohol or taken drugs or is very tired.

“There’s also an increased risk if your baby was premature or at a low birth weight.”

Co-sleeping is a controversial topic, with many cultures embrace parents sharing a bed with their child and others suggesting it poses an array of concerns, including inhibiting their psychological development and preventing them from ever being able to sleep alone.

While the National Childbirth Trust acknowledges there are steps to make co-sleeping safer, such as making sure a baby can’t fall out of bed and that the bedding does not cover the baby’s face, it advises that parents never risk falling asleep with their baby on a sofa or an armchair.

The NHS agrees and adds parents who smoke or have been drinking alcohol should never sleep alongside a baby.

Instead, it advises placing the baby on its back to sleep using a flat, firm mattress and, when in a cot, pram or Moses basket, to place the baby in the ”feet to foot“ position with their feet touching the end.

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