Is Co-Sleeping Safe? Studies Find Sleeping With Babies Increasing Despite Potential Risk

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The phrase "sleep like a baby" is common because, well, have you ever seen a baby sleep? They're so peaceful and angelic that it's hard to resist giving them a good snuggling, sometimes even all night long.

While the rate of SIDS deaths have decreased, other sleep-related deaths, such as suffocation, have increased. This has the National Institute of Health researchers trying to find out just what's happening to cause this increase.

Their findings? Co-sleeping. Despite warnings and recommendations against the practice, twice as many people are co-sleeping with their infants now than 20 years ago. 

Sudden Infant Death Sydrome, SIDS, is one of the leading causes of death among infants in the United States. Its causes aren't clear. Sleep positioning is a critical component and the American Academy of Pediatrics' "Back to Sleep" campaign has lowered the number of SIDS-related deaths significantly.

But it seems some parents still aren't getting the memo about what safe sleep for infants looks like.

The AAP encourages parents to share a room with their infant but not a bed. The practice of "side-car" sleeping is one of the most common and safest ways to co-sleep. The infant is nearby but not in bed with the parent or caregiver.

Co-sleeping with babies under 8 months old rose from 6.5 percent of the population in 1993 to 13.5 percent in 2010. Of that number, 85 percent of co-sleeping families had babies bed-sharing with at least one parent.

While bed-sharing occurs across all ethnic and racial groups, it rose most sharply among African-American and Hispanic families.

More than half of parents and caregivers surveyed for this and similar studies reported receiving no information at all from their pediatricians regarding safe sleep habits despite findings that advice from pediatricians and physicians being one of the leading deterrents of the practice.

Parents whose pediatricians seemed to condemn the practice were less likely to co-sleep.

What do you think, THGers? Is co-sleeping safe?

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