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Arch Dis Child. 2006 Apr;91(4):318-23. Epub 2005 Oct 21.

An 8 year study of risk factors for SIDS: bed-sharing versus non-bed-sharing.

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National Sudden Infant Death Register, George's Hall, The Children's University Hospital, Temple St, Dublin 1, Ireland.



It is unclear if it is safe for babies to bed share with adults. In Ireland 49% of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) cases occur when the infant is bed-sharing with an adult.


To evaluate the effect of bed-sharing during the last sleep period on risk factors for SIDS in Irish infants.


An 8 year (1994-2001) population based case control study of 287 SIDS cases and 831 controls matched for date, place of birth, and sleep period. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated by conditional logistic regression.


The risk associated with bed-sharing was three times greater for infants with low birth weight for gestation (UOR 16.28 v 4.90) and increased fourfold if the combined tog value of clothing and bedding was > or =10 (UOR 9.68 v 2.34). The unadjusted odds ratio for bed-sharing was 13.87 (95% CI 9.58 to 20.09) for infants whose mothers smoked and 2.09 (95% CI 0.98 to 4.39) for non-smokers. Age of death for bed-sharing and sofa-sharing infants (12.8 and 8.3 weeks, respectively) was less than for infants not sharing a sleep surface (21.0 weeks, p<0.001) and fewer bed-sharing cases were found prone (5% v 32%; p = 0.001).


Risk factors for SIDS vary according to the infant's sleeping environment. The increased risk associated with maternal smoking, high tog value of clothing and bedding, and low z scores of weight for gestation at birth is augmented further by bed-sharing. These factors should be taken into account when considering sleeping arrangements for young infants.

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