A new study has found that more than half of the occurrences of Cot Death happen when the baby is sharing a bed with his or her parent
The research from Bristol and Warwick University claims the safest place for baby to sleep for the first six months is in a cot next to the parent’s bed. We completely agree with this statement and it is something we have been recommending to parents since the start of this blog over a year ago.
However, when the tabloids published this story they did not go into enough detail. On closer inspection of the study it is apparent that the extremely high correlation between cot death and co sleeping was observed in a high-risk group. This high-risk group consisted of young, socially-deprived mothers who smoked and many of whom had taken alcohol or drugs at the time of the tragic cot death. In the group studied, there were also many cases where the mother had fallen asleep on the sofa with her baby.
What this study shows therefore is that these risk factors (alcohol, drugs, smoking and falling asleep on the sofa) are lethal when combined with co sleeping. It does not necessarily show that informed cosleeping is much more dangerous than the cot, although there have been studies in the past that have claimed this to be the case.
The study also included a control group which comprised of randomly selected SIDS cases (not just high-risk ones). In this group, 20% of the deaths were associated with a cosleeping arrangement and this control group also had a far lower percentage of alcohol/drug-related risk factors involved. Furthermore, only 1% involved cosleeping on a sofa.
I want to make it clear that I am not advocating cosleeping, I am just trying to give people an objective description of the study and I still stand by my position that the safest place for baby to sleep in the first six months is in a cot next to the parent’s bed.
Although the rate of Cot Death is decreasing in the UK, according to the FSID there are still more than 300 cases a year. The increase in education about the known risk-factors is playing a large part in the declining figures and if you are in any doubt about what you can do to reduce the risk then please read our post on SIDS.