Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) risks are tied to the age of the baby according to new research. While older babies face a high risk when there are items in the crib, young infants see the biggest risk factor increase with bed sharing. Items in the crib range from pillows to toys.

The new study is the first to link age and the risk of SIDS. Researchers looked at over 8,000 infant deaths from sleep-related causes. What scientists found was that in 70 percent of the cases, the parents were bed-sharing with the infant at the time of their death. In one-third of the cases, an object, such as a pillow or blanket, was found in the crib.

This is the first study to link age and the risk of SIDS in differing environments. What researchers want to do is get the message across to parents. Even as your baby ages, just because there has been no problems doesn’t mean there isn’t a risk. The sleep area needs to be kept clear, especially as the baby becomes more mobile.

One note about the study is that it is not a definitive link. While the correlation is strong with bed-sharing and objects in the baby’s crib, scientists cannot go further than a theory. To do that would involve a randomized, controlled trial. That’s beyond unethical, and no one is going to put their infants at risk.

What they found examining the cases is that infants younger than 4 months died from SIDS while bed-sharing. This included sleeping in an adult bed or on top of a person. Babies at this age and younger lack the ability to move their heads to avoid suffocation if a person moves around in the bed.

Researchers are urging parents to follow safe sleeping advice for their newborns. The call for more studies into SIDS is also going out. Rosemary Horne, a SIDS specialist Ritchie Center at Monash Medical Center’s MIMR-PHI Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia talked about possible socioeconomic factors in SIDS deaths.

“More studies need to be done to identify why parents are ignoring safe sleeping advice,” she said. “Is it because of poverty and they simply have no safe place for their baby to sleep, or is it because they are receiving incorrect advice from their parents, family members or medical professionals?”

In the end, parents need to follow the advice of medical professionals. In the United States alone, 2,000 babies died in 2010. That was the last year firm statistics were available. Using this new study, healthcare professionals are hoping to educate new parents on safe-sleeping habits for their newborns.


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