Sudden infant death syndrome in South Australia 1968-97. Part 3: is bed sharing safe for infants?

J Paediatr Child Health. 2000 Dec;36(6):552-4. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1754.2000.00548.x.


Objective: To examine the risk of death for bed-sharing infants.

Methodology: All unexpected infant deaths occurring in South Australia between 1970 and 1997, occurring after the infant was put to rest and diagnosed by after death scene investigation and autopsy as sudden death infant syndrome, accidental death, or 'undetermined' were studied.

Results: Accidents were the most likely cause of death for 5% of infants who died in designated infant containers (cots, cradles, etc), 24% of those who were sharing a bed or couch, and 72% of those who were placed alone on a bed or couch.

Conclusions: While bed sharing showed an increased risk of dying accidentally, when compared with infants sleeping in designated infant containers, the risk of accidental death in this study was even greater for infants left alone on adult beds or couches.

MeSH terms

  • Bedding and Linens
  • Beds
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep
  • South Australia / epidemiology
  • Sudden Infant Death / epidemiology*