Times Colonist

Sharing a bed with infants can have fatal consequenc­es


TORONTO — Parents who allow their infant children to share a bed with them are putting those children’s lives in danger, one of Ontario’s top coroners said yesterday as he released an annual review of child deaths in the province.

The report states 41 infants, ranging in age from 11 days to 13 months, died in 2006 and 2007 while sharing their parents’ beds.

“Our view is there are still kids dying of this, and we would like to see it not happen,” said Dr. Bert Lauwers, associate deputy chief coroner of Ontario.

“You really don’t want that little, wee vulnerable child to be sleeping in a bed with an adult. You want them in an approved crib sleeping in the same room as an adult.”

Lauwers is also chairman of the Pediatric Death Review Committee and the Deaths Under Five Committee, which issued a joint annual report yesterday.

The report came down hard on the practice of bed-sharing. He says the practice is a growing worry among profession­als, who believe it’s leading to a high number of preventabl­e deaths.

Autopsies are often unable to determine a cause of death in bed-sharing cases.

The committee found more than 40 per cent (77 of 186) of child death cases reviewed in 2006 and 2007 involved unsafe sleeping environmen­ts. Forty-one of those involved bed-sharing.

Unsafe sleeping environmen­ts include adult beds, couches, armchairs and infant swings, according to the report. Nearly one out of every five deaths attributed to unsafe sleep environmen­ts involved parents who reported using drugs or alcohol, the report states.

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