Aim: Two reports of infants found dead after sleeping in baby hammocks have raised international concern about the safety of infant hammocks. We therefore tested whether hammock sleep affected oxygenation in infants, when they were at an age of high risk of sudden, unexpected infant death.
Methods: Healthy, full-term 4- to 8-week-old infants were randomised to sleep either in a commercially available hammock (n = 14) or a standard bassinet (n = 9), and sleep state, oxygen desaturation (a fall in peripheral haemoglobin oxygen saturation (SpO2 ) ≥ 4%, for ≥ 4 sec from baseline to nadir), apnoea and hypopnoea, and mean SpO2 were analysed.
Results: There was no significant difference in mean SpO2 (both 98.5%) or rate of oxygen desaturation events between the hammock and the bassinet cot (mean ± SD, 24 ± 20 vs. 28 ± 23 events per hour), but infants slept less in the hammock (59 ± 31 vs. 81 ± 34 min, p < 0.02).
Conclusion: When correctly used, the hammock sleep position did not compromise the upper airway of sleeping infants. The significance of shorter duration of sleep in the hammocks is unclear. These findings should not be applied to all baby hammocks, nor to older babies, particularly once the infant can roll. Given that it is not possible to predict when an infant will be able to roll, we strongly recommend that hammocks should not be used for unsupervised sleep.
Keywords: Airway; Apnoea; Baby hammock; Infant; Oxygenation.
©2014 Foundation Acta Paediatrica. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.