September 30, 1999
CHICAGO (AP) - Supporting recommendations that all infants sleep in cribs, a new study found that an average of 64 young children die each year while sleeping in bed with their parents or other adults.
Children risk getting their heads trapped or being rolled on by an adult when sleeping in adult beds, according to the study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The study, published in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, found that the greatest number of deaths involved children under 1 who became trapped between a mattress and a bed frame. Children also can suffocate on waterbeds or in depressions in mattresses, the report said.
Researchers who examined three commission databases found that 515 children died from 1990 through 1997. They said it is difficult to determine whether that number is accurate because the databases do not include all bed-related deaths for children under 2. But the researchers didn't know of a better source of information than the databases.
James McKenna, a University of Notre Dame professor who has studied parent-baby sleeping, took issue with the researchers' warnings that mothers who sleep with their infants to encourage breast feeding may be putting their children at risk.
``The recommendation tries to simplify a very complicated issue, and it suggests that all bed-sharing is dangerous, which is not true,'' McKenna said.
He said his studies show that even in the deepest stages of sleep, mothers respond within seconds to their baby's slightest noises. He said the only time his studies have shown parents to be unresponsive is when they are desensitized by drugs, alcohol or some other means.
Copyright 1999 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.