Baby bed-sharing on the rise, but healthcare providers can help reverse trend

September 30, 2013

The number of infants sharing a bed with their caregivers increased between 1993 and 2010, especially among black and Hispanic families, but this unhealthy trend could be reversed with education from healthcare providers, according to Yale School of Medicine researchers. Their findings are published in the Sept. 30 issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

Sharing a bed with an infant is common practice in many countries, but there have been strong links between the practice and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). To prevent sleep-related infant deaths, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants share a room with their parents, but not a bed for sleeping.

Eve Colson, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine, and her colleagues interviewed nighttime of infants—85% of whom were mothers—participating in the National Infant Sleep Position Study. This study consists of annual phone surveys of 18,986 caregivers in 48 states. Almost half of the caregivers were 30 years or older, had at least a college education, and had a yearly income of at least $50,000. More than 80% of the participants were white.

The participants were given a list of places infants usually sleep and were then asked where their infants slept in the past two weeks; and whether the baby slept alone, or shared a bed with another person or child. If the infants did share, the caregivers were asked about quilt and comforter use. They were also asked whether a physician or other healthcare provider had ever discussed sleeping arrangements, and whether the provider's attitude was positive, negative, or neutral about bed-sharing.

Colson and the team found that between 1993 and 2010 the incidence of baby bed-sharing more than doubled from 6.5% to 13.5%. They also found that white infants slept in bed with their caregivers less often than black or Hispanic infants. More than half of the participants also reported that they did not receive advice from healthcare providers about bed-sharing. Participants who received healthcare provider advice to not bed-share were more likely to follow that advice. If a healthcare provider was indifferent, the participants were more likely to bed-share.

"This shows that a healthcare provider's advice matters, and they can play a key role in educating caregivers about the possible dangers of bed-sharing," said Colson, who also emphasizes that the widening racial disparity is very troubling. "We find this concerning because black infants are at a higher risk of dying of SIDS than white and Hispanic ."

Colson said more studies are needed to investigate some of the factors related to the racial disparity in bed-sharing.

Explore further: Bed sharing with parents increases risk of cot death fivefold

More information: JAMA Pediatr. DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.2560 (September 30, 2013)

Editorial: JAMA Pediatr. Published online September 30, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.2569

Related Stories

Bed sharing with parents increases risk of cot death fivefold

May 20, 2013
Bed sharing with parents is linked to a fivefold increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), even when the parents are non-smokers and the mother has not been drinking alcohol and does not use illegal drugs, according ...

NIH expands safe infant sleep outreach effort

September 13, 2012
The U.S. national campaign to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome has entered a new phase and will now encompass all sleep-related, sudden unexpected infant deaths, officials of the National Institutes of Health ...

New study reinforces need for continued infant sleep campaigns to prevent SIDS

October 17, 2011
New research reinforces the need for continued public education programs that encourage parents to place their infants to sleep in the supine (back) position in a safe crib or bassinet, to prevent an estimated 4,600 annual ...

Safe sleep environments key to preventing many infant deaths

April 19, 2012
Since 1992, the government's Back-to-Sleep Campaign has encouraged parents to place infants on their backs to sleep. Still, more than 4,500 infants die unexpectedly during sleep each year in the United States. Now, a University ...

Expert: Babies can sleep safely next to mothers

March 28, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- If practiced safely, co-sleeping with your baby is safe and beneficial, according to James McKenna, University of Notre Dame biological anthropologist and world-renowned expert on sudden infant death syndrome ...

UQ researchers reject statement that co-sleeping is dangerous

July 10, 2012
Researchers from UQ's Queensland Centre for Mothers & Babies are concerned about recent messages that parents should never sleep in the same bed as their babies.

Recommended for you

Small drop in measles vaccinations would have outsized effect, study estimates

July 24, 2017
Small reductions in childhood measles vaccinations in the United States would produce disproportionately large increases in the number of measles cases and in related public health costs, according to a new study by researchers ...

At the cellular level, a child's loss of a father is associated with increased stress

July 18, 2017
The absence of a father—due to incarceration, death, separation or divorce—has adverse physical and behavioral consequences for a growing child. But little is known about the biological processes that underlie this link ...

New comparison chart sheds light on babies' tears

July 10, 2017
A chart that enables parents and clinicians to calculate if a baby is crying more than it should in the first three months of its life has been created by a Kingston University London researcher, following a study of colic ...

Blood of SIDS infants contains high levels of serotonin

July 3, 2017
Blood samples from infants who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) had high levels of serotonin, a chemical that carries signals along and between nerves, according to a study funded in part by the National Institutes ...

Is your child's 'penicillin allergy' real?

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Many children suspected of being allergic to the inexpensive, first-line antibiotic penicillin actually aren't, new research indicates.

Probiotic supplements failed to prevent babies' infections

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Probiotic supplements may not protect babies from catching colds or stomach bugs in day care, a new clinical trial suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.