Monday, January 16, 2012

SIDS: 50% Infant Deaths occur during Co-Sleeping

An Adelaide pathologist calls on mothers to let their babies sleep in their cribs and avoid couches as well as other soft surfaces.

In an editorial published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), University of Adelaide forensic pathologist Professor Roger Byard said research confirmed adults sleeping beside a baby could increase risk of infant suffocation.

When infants die in their sleep, pathologists look into the possibility of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) along with suffocation.

Prof Byard said half of all infants found unexpectedly dead were sleeping beside an adult at the time, which means the babies may have died from suffocation and not sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

"Accidental suffocation appears to be a more likely mechanism of death than subtle processes leading to SIDS," the professor said.

While many parents believe that sleeping next to their baby is related to establishing a more solid bond between them, Prof Byard said the risks far outweighed any of the perceived gains.

Prof Byard also raised the issue on letting babies sleep on couches and other soft surfaces, as these are also high risk factors for shared-sleeping death.

He explained that adults do not necessarily have to be lying over an infant completely for respiration to be compromised. He said surfaces and the immediate surroundings of a sleeping baby should be free from anything or anyone that could reduce oxygen flow for the baby.

Parental obesity and fatigue are also among the risk factors, he said.

"Some infants are particularly vulnerable to the effects of compromised breathing and there is often no clinical predictor of this vulnerability," Prof Byard wrote in his column.

Fixing the Problem
Apart from being dangerous to the young child, co-sleeping has a serious affect on the adults' lifestyle, their own sleep and their relationship with their partner, if present.

Co-sleeping can be used as a barrier between partners at a particularly difficult time in their relationship. The child is introduced into the bed to avoid addressing the real problem.

Do Not Despair
If you have gone down the route of co-sleeping and now find it is not working for you or is seriously affecting your relationship with your partner, do not despair, it is possible to teach your child to sleep on their own in their own bed.

Contact the Sleep Consultants at Dream Angus and they will be able to help you through the difficult transition of undoing your co-sleeping decision. And they will do this in a sensitive and thoughtful way so as to improve the family dynamics and partner relationships.

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