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Risks vary with age for sleep-related infant deaths, Study
Risks vary with age for sleep-related infant deaths, Study

Risks vary with age for sleep-related infant deaths, Study

A new study analyzing the factors linked to sleep-related deaths suggests that bed-sharing is the greatest risk for babies ages 4 months and younger, while rolling into objects in the sleep area — such as a blanket or pillow — is the top risk factor for older babies.

The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday, relied on data from 24 states collected between 2004 and 2012 by the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths Case Reporting System. Researchers analyzed a total of 8,207 deaths.

Younger infants were more likely bed-sharing compared with babies aged four months to just under a year (73.8 per cent vs. 58.9 per cent.)

“The predominant risk factor for younger infants (up to three months of age) is bed-sharing, whereas rolling to prone, with objects in the sleep area, is the predominant risk factor for older infants (four months to 364 days),” Dr. Jeffrey Colvin of Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinic in Kansas City, Mo., and his co-authors concluded.

“Parents should be warned about the dangers of bed-sharing, particularly in 0- to three-month-old infants.”

They also suggested that parents should be reminded that cribs should be clear of objects so that if an infant rolls, there is no risk of rolling into something that increases the risk suffocation.

The Canadian Paediatric Society reaffirmed its recommendations for safe sleep environments for infants and children in February.

“The recommended practice of independent sleeping will likely continue to be the preferred sleeping arrangement for infants in Canada, but a significant proportion of families will still elect to sleep together,” the society’s position statement said. “The risk of suffocation and entrapment in adult beds or unsafe cribs will need to be addressed for both practices to achieve any reduction in this devastating adverse event.”

The group noted that evidence suggests bed-sharing with an adult who is extremely fatigued or impaired by alcohol or drugs (legal or illegal) that impair arousal can be hazardous to an infant.


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