Parent's Bed Can Be Deadly

A new study published in a journal of the American Medical Association looks at the dangers of having children younger than 2 years old sleep in adult beds. CBS This Morning Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay reports.

The study from the Consumer Products Safety Commission found that 515 kids under 2 died while sleeping in adult beds during a period between 1990 and 1997.

The study found that overlying was the cause of 121 of the deaths, which means a sleeping parent accidentally rolled over onto the baby, resulting in asphyxiation. In the cases of overlying, all of the deaths were infants between 1 and 12 months, and nearly 80 percent were under three months.

Entrapment is another major cause of these deaths, which caused more than half of the total deaths recorded. Entrapment is when a baby gets trapped by the bed or the mattress.

There are many ways a baby can become trapped in the bed. One possibility is the baby getting wedged between the bed mattress and the wall next to the bed. Another way is babies getting caught between the mattress and the headboard or the footboard. Strangulation between railings of the headboard or footboard was found as another cause of death.

Nearly 80 of the deaths in this study occurred on water beds. Children can become trapped between the mattress and the frame, resulting in asphyxia. Babies lying face down on the waterbed can become asphyxiated because of the soft surface.

The study did not look at Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but experts used to believe that a parent sleeping alongside a child prevented SIDS. Now, however, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against co-sleeping because of the studies showing there may actually be a higher risk of SIDS.

Many breast-feeding moms sleep with their babies because it makes those frequent feedings much easier. While medical experts still encourage breast feeding, the Consumer Products Safety Commission recommends placing the babies in bassinets or cribs that meet the Commission's standards after feedings instead of allowing the child to fall asleep beside you.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission recommends that babies be placed on their backs in cribs or bassinets, without quilts, stuffed animals and pillows. These items are very dangerous in cribs, and are thought to be a cause of SIDS.

The commission also recommend a footed blanket sleeper for warmth, but if you don't have one and want to use a blanket, use a very lightweight blanket, tucked into the mattress, and brought up no higher than the baby's chest. If you want to use bumpers, you should use firm ones, the consistency of a gym mat, tied tightly with very short strings to prevent strangulation.

Reported By Dr. Emily Senay