Pathologist claims cosleeping inscreases SIDS risk five-fold

A coroner has concluded that an 11-week-old baby died from positional asphyxiation as a result of cosleeping with her parents and an older sibling, and went on to state:

“I feel it is important to stress that the public should be aware that sleeping with a baby, particularly young children, is unsafe”.
Coroner Anne Pember, concluding an inquest into the death of Darcie-Rose Souster

The pathologist who conducted the post-mortem examination also claimed a five-fold [increased] risk of Sudden Infant Death syndrome [when cosleeping with two parents]. As far as I can tell he’s referring to this research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (which is summarised in non-journalese here).

The National Childbirth Trust (generally pretty favourable to cosleeping) haven’t commented on these statements, but their website guidance on cosleeping provides an overview of cosleeping risk. Their article here acknowledges some experts advise against it, whilst others conclude the additional risk is negligible if parents avoid drinking alcohol, smoking, taking drugs, or falling asleep with the baby on a sofa.

There are also some additional elements in the death of Darcie-Rose that might take the circumstances outside the ideal cosleeping arrangement. She fell asleep on her dad’s arm, which placed her in a head-forward position that may have restricted her breathing. There was also another child in the bed (who snuck in during the night). Finally, Darcie-Rose had some kind of illness at the time, which her mother described as a “severe chest infection” (although the pathologist said it was more likely to be a cold, with no post-mortem evidence of a significant respiratory tract infection).

Whatever the cause, this is a tragic case. NHS guidance remains against cosleeping, but plenty of other reputable authorities continue to support it. Definitely an area new parents should read into and make their own decision on.


PS: Cosleeping is the practice of sleeping in the same bed as your baby. Mums in particular seem to have natural instincts that reduce the risk of adverse effects on your child.

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