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Higher probability of sleep-related infant suffocation when co-sleeping in the parents’ Bed

Author Prof. E. Harms, University Department of Pediatrics Münster

The data of 250 cases of sleep-related infant suffocation, which occurred in the period between 2011 to 2014 and were recorded in the American Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Case Registry, was evaluated with regard to their circumstances [1].
69% of the cases were attributed to soft bedding (49% of which occurred in the parents’ bed, 82% were in a prone position, 34% were caused by blankets). 19% of the cases were linked to overlay  (71% of these cases occurred in the parents’ bed, 47% were caused by the mother). 12% of the cases were linked to wedging (48% of which involved the infant becoming wedged between the mattress and the wall). A meta-analysis was published to answer the question of whether a sleeping bag could be the solution to some of these issues [2].

The authors concluded that the use of a sleeping bag is recommended, provided, however, that (1) a sufficiently firm mattress is used, (2) the sleeping bag fits snugly, (3) no additional blanket is used, and (4) room temperature and sleeping bag warmth rating are compatible.

Comment: Parents should always be mindful that their bed is a dangerous place for young infants to sleep, especially during the first months of life.  Letting their child sleep in their own bed and putting them in a suitable sleeping bag can minimise some risks.

[1] Lambert ABE, Parks SE, Cottengim C, et al. (2019) Sleep-Related Infant Suffocation Deaths Attributable to Soft Bedding, Overlay, and Wedging. Pediatrics 143(5):e20183408.
[2] Williams AG, Finlay F (2019) Can infant sleeping bags be recommended by medical professionals as protection against sudden infant death syndrome? Archives of Disease in Childhood 2019; 104:305–307