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J Paediatr Child Health. 2001 Oct;37(5):476-8.

Specific dangers associated with infants sleeping on sofas.

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Forensic Science Centre, Adelaide, SA, Australia.



A study was undertaken to examine specific circumstances that may lead to accidental asphyxial deaths in infants on sofas.


Coronial files in South Australia (Australia) from 1989 to 1998, and files at the Office of the Medical Examiner in San Diego County (USA) from 1991 to 1998 were searched for all cases of infant deaths occurring on sofas.


A total of 10 cases with complete death scene descriptions were found. Four deaths were attributed to sudden infant death syndrome and six deaths to accidental asphyxia, of which four involved shared sleeping with an adult. Lethal circumstances involved infants being overlayed by an adult (n = 2), wedged between an adult and the back of a sofa (n = 1), sleeping with an intoxicated/sedated adult (n = 2), wedged between pillows and the back of a sofa (n = 1), and wedged into the back of a sofa (n = 1).


Although shared sleeping of an adult with an infant on a sofa may result in accidental asphyxia, there is also the potential for wedging and accidental asphyxia of infants sleeping alone on a sofa. For this reason the use of sofas for both shared and solitary infant sleeping is discouraged.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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