It has been recommended that infant be put to sleep in separate beds to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The number of infant deaths as a consequence of parents sleeping together with their infant on a sofa has considerably increased over the recent years according to a report, published in the Lancet.
Premature babies, low birth weight infants, male infants and those that sleep on their side or front face an increased risk of SIDS. Maternal smoking during pregnancy or passive smoking are other significant risk factors. The death rate as a consequence of SIDS came down significantly in 1991 in UK due to the successful 'Back to Sleep'.
The researchers of the present study examined the data obtained from the campaign and evaluated the various factors that influence sudden infant death syndrome. Although the number of infant deaths in the parental bed had decreased, it was evident that there was indeed a fourfold increase in the incidence of SIDS due to co-sleeping in a sofa.
The proportion of poor families where SIDS had occurred was also found to increase from 47% to an alarming 74%. Maternal smoking was 86% prevalent compared to a 57% before 20 years. The percentage of premature infants has risen from 12 to 34. Surprisingly, the prevalence of breast-feeding had decreased by as much as 50%.
'Although the reasons for the rise in deaths when a parent sleeps with their infant on a sofa are unclear, we strongly recommend that parents avoid this sleeping environment. Our data clearly show that SIDS is now largely confined to deprived families and if we exclude deaths on sofas, the numbers of babies dying whilst in bed with their parents has fallen by 50% over the past 20 years', concluded Professor Fleming, one of the researchers.