SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of an infant under 1 year of age. Its exact cause isn't known.
The new study, published in Pediatrics, comes a year after the American Academy of Pediatrics issued its latest SIDS prevention recommendations.
Take a moment to review those recommendations:
The new study doesn't prove that bed-sharing causes SIDS. But it links bed sharing to several SIDS risk factors.
The study focuses on 239 New Jersey babies who died of SIDS between 1996 and 2000. Data came from the SIDS Center of New Jersey at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
That's where researcher Barbara Ostfeld, Ph.D., works. Ostfeld's team found that 39% of the babies died of SIDS while sharing a bed or couch.
"Bed-sharing with respect to SIDS is a controversial topic," write the researchers.
They didn't try to explain why the babies died of SIDS. Instead, they looked for patterns among bed-sharing babies who died of SIDS. Those babies were more likely to have been put to sleep on their sides. That's an "unstable sleep position," the researchers note.
The bed-sharing babies who died of SIDS were also more likely to have sleep risks like sleeping with soft, loose bedding (such as pillows, quilts, or blankets), or to have slept in the same bed as other kids. Those babies were also more likely to be black, have a mother less than 19 years of age, and a mother who smoked.
The study doesn't show whether household income affected SIDS risk, or whether the findings apply to other babies who die of SIDS.
SOURCES: Ostfeld, B. Pediatrics, November 2006; Vol. 118: pp. 2051-2059. American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Pediatrics, November 2005; Vol. 116: pp. 1245-1255. News release, American Academy of Pediatrics.
By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang, M.D