Co-sleeping deaths preventable

Anyone who went to Sunday School will probably know the story of Solomon:

Two young women who lived in the same house and who both had an infant son came to Solomon for a judgment. One of the women claimed that the other, after accidentally smothering her own son while sleeping, had exchanged the two children to make it appear that the living child was hers. The other woman denied this and so both women claimed to be the mother of the living son and said that the dead boy belonged to the other. After some deliberation, King Solomon called for a sword to be brought before him. He declared that there was only one fair solution: the live son must be split in two, each woman receiving half of the child. The liar, in her bitter jealousy, exclaimed, “It shall be neither mine nor yours—divide it!” However, upon hearing this terrible verdict, the boy’s true mother cried out, “Oh Lord, give the baby to her, just don’t kill him!”

All those hundreds of years ago the danger of sharing a bed with a baby was known.

Cot deaths, or Sudden Infant Death syndrome was prevalent when our children were born. It was particularly high in New Zealand and research established that co-sleeping was a very high risk factor.

That was more than 20 years ago and the message still hasn’t got through:

Deaths caused by infants sleeping with their mothers have reached epidemic proportions, a coroner says.

In the Rotorua coroner’s court today, coroner Wallace Bain listed a litany of deaths caused by co-sleeping both in New Zealand and overseas saying the problem was on-going. . .

Noting there had been 55-60 preventable deaths nationwide in recent years, 26 in the Rotorua region in five years involving infants sharing beds with adults, he said parents continued to put their children at risk.

He said midwives appeared to have changed their practice of advising co-sleeping, something he’d refer more formally to in his findings which he reserved.

He urged the media to “get the no co-sleeping message out there”.

Last month an international study was released which said up to 88 percent of children who died while sleeping with their parents may not have died if they were sleeping on their own. 

It was from the biggest ever study of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and results showed that even when neither parent smoked, and the baby was less than three months old, breastfed and the mother did not drink or take drugs, the risk of SIDS was five times higher if sleeping with a parent, than if the baby had slept in a cot next to their parents’ bed.

Smoking, being drunk and taking drowsiness-inducing drugs further increases the risk.

The research is unequivocal about the risks and reducing them is easy.

Babies should sleep in their own beds.


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