Hazards of mattresses, beds and bedding in deaths of infants

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 1991 Mar;12(1):27-32. doi: 10.1097/00000433-199103000-00004.


Of 52 infants who had died suddenly and were referred to autopsy, nine had lain on adult water beds for the first time; five had died as a result of accidents; two had died on water beds; two were in beds with widely spaced slats; and one had died as a result of strangulation. Three deaths were due to overlying. Three other infants had been placed on sheepskin rugs for the first time and were found dead shortly thereafter. These infants ranged in age from 2 to 9 months, except for a severely mentally retarded nine-year-old with spastic paraplegia. We believe that a general warning should be issued concerning water beds and that soft bedding should not be used for infants. Infants should not be placed unattended or left to sleep on water beds; only beds recommended for infants should be used. Overlying of a young infant is most likely to occur on a water bed, or if the parent is obese or has consumed alcohol.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Accidents*
  • Asphyxia / etiology*
  • Bedding and Linens*
  • Beds*
  • Child
  • Death, Sudden*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intellectual Disability / complications
  • Male
  • Paraplegia / complications