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Bed sharing and the sudden infant death syndrome

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 11 November 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1269
  1. Hillary Klonoff-Cohen, assistant professora,
  2. Sharon L Edelstein, assistant professorb
  1. aDepartment of Family and Preventive Medicine, Division of Epidemiology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92037-0607, United States
  2. bGeorge Washington Biostatistical Center, George Washington University, Rockville, MD 28052
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Klonoff-Cohen.
  • Accepted 20 August 1995


Objective : To determine whether infants who died of the sudden infant death syndrome routinely shared their parents' bed more commonly than control infants.

Design : Case-control study.

Setting : Southern California.

Subjects : 200 white, African-American, Latin American, and Asian infants who died and 200 living controls, matched by birth hospital, date of birth, sex, and race.

Main outcome measures : Routine bedding (for example, crib, cradle), day and night time sleeping arrangement 9for example, alone or sharing a bed); for cases only, sleeping arrangement at death. Differences in bed sharing practices among races.

Results : Of the infants who died of the syndrome, 45 (22.4%) were sharing a bed. Daytime bed sharing was more common in African-American (P<0.001) and Latin American families (P<0.001) than in white families. The overall adjusted odds ratio for the syndrome and routine bed sharing in the daytime was 1.38 (95% confidence interval 0.59 to 3.22) and for night was 1.21 (0.59 to 2.48). These odds ratios were adjusted for routine sleep position, passive smoking, breast feeding, intercom use, infant birth weight, medical conditions at birth, and maternal age and education. There was no interaction between bed sharing and passive smoking or alcohol use by either parent.

Conclusions : Although there was a significant difference between bed sharing among African-American and Latin American parents compared with white parents, there was no significant relation between routine bed sharing and the sudden infant death syndrome.


  • Funding This research was supported by grants 1KT0038 and 2KT0063 from the University of California, Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program.

  • Conflict of interest None.

  • Accepted 20 August 1995
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