The proportion of infants bed sharing with caregivers increased between 1993 and 2010, especially among black and Hispanic families, according to a study published by JAMA Pediatrics, a JAMA Network publication.
While infant bed sharing is a common practice in many countries, strong associations between the practice and sudden infant death syndrome have been established, according to the study background. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants share a room with their parents but not a bed for sleeping to prevent sleep-related infant deaths.
The study by Eve R. Colson, M.D., of the Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., and colleagues included 18,986 participants in the National Infant Sleep Position study, which was conducted through annual telephone surveys in 48 states. More than 84 percent of the survey respondents were the mothers of infants, while almost half of the caregivers were 30 years or older, had at least a college education and had a yearly income of at least $50,000. More than 80 percent of the participants were white.
Of survey participants, 11.2 percent reported infant bed sharing as a usual practice; the proportion of infants bed sharing increased from 6.5 percent in 1993 to 13.5 percent in 2010. Bed sharing increased among black and Hispanic families throughout the study period. Bed sharing increased among white families in the first study period (1993 to 2000), but not more recently (2001 to 2010), according to the study results.
The percentage of black infants usually sharing a bed increased from 21.2 percent in 1993 to 38.7 percent in 2010; the increase for Hispanic infants was 12.5 percent in 1993 to 20.5 percent in 2010. White infants usually sharing a bed increased from 4.9 percent in 1993 to 9.1 percent in 2010, the study findings indicate.
"We found that black infants, who are at highest risk of sudden infant death syndrome and accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, share a bed most often. Compared with white infants, black infants are 3.5 times more likely to share a bed," the authors write.
Other factors associated with an infant usually sharing a bed during the study period included a household income less than $50,000 compared to more than $50,000; living in the West or the South compared with the Midwest; infants younger than 15 weeks compared with 16 weeks or older; and being born prematurely compared with full-term.
"The factors associated with infant bed sharing may be useful in evaluating the impact of a broad intervention to change behavior," the study concludes.
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