Many deaths linked to sharing bed

The Press 23 May 2009

More than half of cot-death babies were sharing a bed when they died, new research shows. The Otago University research, soon to be published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, has prompted calls for parents to get unequivocal information that sleeping with a baby is dangerous. However, some Maori, midwives and researchers say the practice is positive for breast-feeding and bonding.

A senior paediatric lecturer with Otago University’s Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dr Dawn Elder, was one of the lead researchers on the investigation. Her research showed bed-sharing was associated with almost 54 per cent of cot deaths, known as sudden infant deaths (SIDs) or sudden unexpected deaths in infants, in Wellington between 1997 and 2006. There was a significant association between bed-sharing and babies being found dead on a Sunday morning, the research showed. Alcohol consumption could be a factor in this, Elder said.