According to an article in Science Daily, a new study has once again put into question the safety of co-sleeping. Research by London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, published in BMJ Open, found that breastfed babies sharing their parents' bed have a "fivefold increase in the risk of crib death, even if the parents do not smoke."
While the risk of cot death or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has previously been found to increase if parents smoke or drink, this latest study—the largest of its kind—suggests that risks still exist for co-sleeping babies under a year old.
Using cases in which parents shared a room but not a bed with babies as the control group, those who shared a bed with breastfed babies under three months old saw a fivefold increase in cot death.
Moreover, researchers claim that as many as 81 per cent of all cot deaths among babies under three months (where there is no other risk factor) could be avoided if babies did not co-sleep and that the overall risk of SIDS decreases the older a baby gets, with peak risk being between seven and 10 weeks.
"Currently in the UK more than half of cot deaths occur while a baby is sleeping in the same bed as its parents," said lead researcher Professor Bob Carpenter from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. "Though it is clear that smoking and drinking greatly increase the risk of cot death while bed sharing, our study shows that there is in fact an increased risk for all babies under three months who bed share, even if their parents do not smoke or drink."
Though babies can certainly be brought into the parental bed for comfort and feeding, Carpenter maintains that the safest place for a baby to sleep is in a cot next to the bed. "Health professionals need to make a definite stand against all bed sharing, especially for babies under 3 months."
What do you make of this study? Maybe this public awareness campaign wasn't so far-fetched, after all...