Released on: 03 July 2014

In response to NICE draft recommendations to tackle Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Belinda Phipps, Chief Executive, NCT, says:

“Parents need accurate, comprehensive information about reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). We agree that is important that they are informed about the link between bed-sharing and SIDS when combined with smoking, drug or alcohol use or for low birth weight or premature babies. We are pleased that NICE recognise the 'many reasons why co-sleeping occurs' and that it may not be planned.

“However, we know that around half of UK mothers bed-share with their baby at some point in their first few of months.(1) NICE guidance needs to reflect this reality. The guidelines recommend that parents are informed of the link, but may well lead to parents being told not to bed-share. We are concerned that these guidelines will lead to parents hiding the fact that they are bed-sharing, or doing so through desperation or exhaustion without safety strategies in place.

“NICE also needs to consider the association between sleeping in separate rooms and SIDS, as evidence indicates that this could present a higher risk than bed-sharing with a parent who does not smoke, drink or take drugs (2); and the finding that more breastfeeding mothers co-sleep as there is evidence that breastfeeding helps to reduce the risk of SIDS. (3)

“It is worth bearing in mind that cultural groups in the UK and other parts of the world, who bed-share as the norm but have low rates of smoking, alcohol and drug use, have been shown to have low rates of SIDS." (4)

  1 Bolling K, Grant C, Hamlyn B et al. Infant Feeding Survey, 2005. London: The Information Centre for Health and Social Care; 2007.
  2 Carpenter RG, Irgens LM, Blair PS, England PD, Fleming P, Huber J, et al. Sudden unexplained infant death in 20 regions in Europe: case control study. Lancet. 2004;363(9404):185-91.
  3 Hauck FR, Thompson JM, Tanabe KO, et al. Breastfeeding and reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome: a meta-analysis. Pediatrics 2011;128(1):103-10.
 4 Ball HL, Moya E, Fairley L, Westman J, Oddie S, Wright J. Infant care practices related to sudden infant death syndrome in South Asian and White British families in the UK. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2012 Jan;26(1):3-12.

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