Sofa Sleeping Leads to Rise in Percentage of Infant Mortality

First Posted: Oct 13, 2014 03:54 AM EDT

A new study warns parents that putting infants to sleep on sofa or other soft surface is dangerous.

Sleep environment is regarded as a key factor in lowering the nearly 4000 unexpected sleep-related infant deaths that take place each year. These deaths mostly occur due to accidental suffocation and strangulation. In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics released recommendation that infants be placed for sleep in non-prone position.

They are currently expanding its recommendations from focusing only on SIDS to focusing on safe sleep environment that lowers the risk of sleep-related infant deaths. The recommendations include using firm sleep surface, using pacifier, avoidance of soft bedding.

Several pieces of research have highlighted that co-sleeping with infants in a bed or a sofa or an armchair is highly risky. Supporting this is the latest study provided by the American Academy of pediatrics that shows sofa sleeping results in higher percentage of infant deaths.

The study "sofas and Infant Mortality" evaluated the data of infant deaths on sofa from 24 states from 2004-2012.  The data included a total of 9,073 sudden infant deaths and was evaluated by Dr. Jeffrey Colvin, a pediatrician at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. They then compared those occurring on sofa with those in cribs or beds.

Out of the total sleep-related infant deaths, nearly 1,024 took place on a sofa. Majority of the deaths occurred in infants aged between 0-3 months. The researchers also noticed that it was non-hispanic whites that made the largest represented ethnicity i.e. 44.8 percent.

"Overall, infants were most commonly placed on their back to sleep, however, infants found on sofas were more likely to be placed face-down or on their side compared to other sleep locations. Infants found on sofas were significantly more likely to have mothers who used tobacco during pregnancy, which is consistent with other studies," authors report.

Based on this, the researchers suggest that even while napping, sofa sleeping with an infant is very risky and lead to an increased risk of death. Hence, it is important that parents and caregivers remain cautious about these hazards associated with unsafe sleep environment and need to be educated about safe sleep practices.

The study was documented in Pediatrics.

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