Objectives: To identify and assess dangers associated with placing children younger than 2 years to sleep in adult beds. This article focuses on overlying, wedging, and strangulation hazards and the relationship of these hazards to children's sleeping environments.
Design: A retrospective review and analysis of data collected by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission on deaths of children younger than 2 years in standard adult beds, daybeds, and waterbeds. The review included incident data from January 1990 through December 1997.
Results: The 8-year records showed a total of 515 deaths of children younger than 2 years who were placed to sleep on adult beds. Of these deaths, 121 were reported to be due to overlying of the child by a parent, other adult, or sibling sleeping in bed with the child and 394 were due to entrapment in the bed structure. Most of these deaths seem to have resulted from suffocation or strangulation caused by entrapment of the child's head in various structures of the bed.
Conclusions: Placing children younger than 2 years to sleep in adult beds exposes them to potentially fatal hazards that are generally not recognized by the parent or caregiver. These hazards include overlying by a parent, sibling, or other adult sharing the bed; entrapment or wedging of the child between the mattress and another object; head entrapment in bed railings; and suffocation on waterbeds. Parents and caregivers should be alerted to these avoidable hazards.