Of all the things new parents fear, sudden infant death syndrome is one of the scariest.
Fortunately, with greater research and education, SIDS has become less common over the past 20 years.
Back in the 1990’s, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare published the following advice for new parents to reduce incidents of SIDS:
- children sleep safest on their backs
- smoking during pregnancy is a risk factor for SIDS
- children should not be kept too warm
- children should be able to move freely
- breastfeeding provided a certain amount of protection.
This advice helped reduce the number of cases of SIDS from 100 to 20 per year in Sweden.
However, recognizing potential to save more lives, researcher Per Möllborg studied the factors surrounding SIDS for his new thesis at the University of Gothenburg.
“Infants should sleep in their own beds.”
One of the thesis’ four studies examined co-sleeping. Children sleeping with their parents can be a risky situation during the first months.
The research in the thesis found that, in addition to sleeping on their backs, infants should sleep in their own beds for the first few months to reduce the risk of sudden infant death.
“The results show that more lives could potentially be saved if fewer babies slept on their stomachs or were placed on their sides, if fewer mothers smoked during pregnancy and if infants slept in their own beds in their parents’ bedroom during the first three months,” says Per Möllborg.
This research probably won’t settle the co-sleeping debate.
The safest option for newborns is sleeping on their backs in their own bed in their parents room. Some infant beds are designed to attach to their parents bed, sidecar-style, perhaps giving the best of both worlds. Hopefully, this new data point can help further reduce tragic cases of SIDS.
Source: Göteborgs Universitet
Per Möllborg, Director and Child Health Medical Officer at Närhälsan, Region Fyrbodal, and Ph.D. Candidate at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.