Saturday, 8 October 2011

SIDS: Australia: Landmark study reveals dangers of sharing bed with babies

 VICTORIAN coroner John Olle has described as "alarming" the number of infant co-sleeping deaths in Victoria.
Mr Olle this morning opened a formal hearing into the trend, which he described as "breathtaking".
"The numbers have alarmed," he said.
He was commenting on figures reported in today's Herald Sun that show 33 of the 72 unexplained child deaths in the past three years occurred in circumstances where a child shared a bed with an adult.
Alarming new data shows that co-sleeping, where a baby shares a bed with an adult, is linked to nearly one in two sudden infant death syndrome cases in Victoria.
A landmark investigation found there had been seven co-sleeping infant deaths in 2008, rising to 15 in 2010.
The figures formed part of a Corners Prevention Unit investigation, believed to be first of its kind in Australia.
The coroner will examine five case studies as part on a day-long inquest on November 28.
Guidelines do not expressly tell mums and dads not to share a sleep surface with their babies, though they do acknowledge a risk.
SIDS and Kids formal guidance says: "Sharing a sleep surface with a baby is a complex issue that encompasses many factors, and there is currently insufficient evidence to issue a blanket statement either for or against this practice."
Data from the Victorian Coroner's Prevention Unit, extracted for the coronial inquiry, shows 72 children aged between seven days and one year died mysteriously as they slept over the three years to December 2010.
Of those, 33 had been sharing a bed, or other sleep surface, with an adult.
Murdoch Children's Research Institute associate professor Harriet Hitchcock warned there was always a risk in sharing a bed with a baby, but conceded parents received mixed messages.
"Some studies show increased risk and others show none, so there is conflicting evidence," she said.
During the inquest, which opens with a directions hearing today, experts will debate whether suffocation and even excessive body heat contributes to infant co-sleeping deaths.