AAP ISSUES POLICY, NEW STUDY RELEASED ON BEDSHARING
TO: Affiliate Presidents and Executive Directors
RE: NEW CPSC REPORT STRONGLY DISCOURAGES BEDSHARING WITH INFANTS UNDER 2
Tomorrow morning, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will release the results of an 8-year study of 515 infant bedsharing-related deaths in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. According to the study, 121 of the deaths involved overlying of the infant by another person in a shared bed; the other infant deaths were associated with some form of entrapment of the infant exacerbated by a sleep environment designed for adults that was never intended for use by children under the age of 2 years.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, acting both alone and together with the U.S. Public Health Service, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs and the SIDS Alliance, has expended much time and energy exploring the many facets of providing a safe sleep environment for infants in order to ultimately reduce the risks of SIDS and accidental infant deaths. A review of the current scientific literature demonstrates that not only has bedsharing not been proven to be protective against SIDS but that it can, under a number of conditions, actually be hazardous. A growing body of evidence shows that not all bedsharing scenarios are either idyllic or by choice. Some bedsharing results from financial exigency, and is exemplified by chaotic situations with multiple family members-not just mother and baby-sharing the same crowded bed.
Mothers who choose to bedshare with their infants to facilitate breastfeeding and bond with their baby need to open their eyes to a myriad of potential safety hazards associated with the adult sleep environment not intended or designed to accommodate infants. Parents also need to be aware of and adhere to Back To Sleep recommendations that have helped reduce the SIDS rate by 43% since 1992-the equivalent of sparing 2,000 infant lives a year. The fact is that the same conditions must apply whether a baby sleeps alone in a crib or bedshares with a parent in an adult bed: always provide a smoke free environment for your baby and make sure that your baby sleeps on his or her back on a firm, flat mattress without pillows, comforters or other soft bedding items. Waterbeds, sheepskins, featherbeds and futons are not safe sleep surfaces for babies, and were not designed for infant use. In addition, bedsharing with brothers or sisters or relatives other than the baby's mother is not recommended.
Given all we know, it would seem that room sharing (i.e. keeping baby's bassinet next to the parent's bed at night) continues to be the best way to maximize all the benefits and minimize all the dangers associated with bedsharing.
The SIDS Alliance is a national, not-for-profit voluntary health organization dedicated to the support of SIDS families, public education, and medical research. Those seeking additional information about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and ways to reduce the risk of SIDS may wish to call the SIDS Alliance toll-free hotline at (800) 221-7437 or visit the SIDS Alliance online at www.sidsalliance.org.
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