To assess the role of parental bedsharing in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)-like deaths, this study examines the hypothesis that, compared with other SIDS cases, the age distribution of deaths associated with bedsharing should be lower in younger, less vigorous infants.
For 84 SIDS cases in Cleveland, Ohio, 1992 to 1996, age at death, maternal weight, and other risk factors for SIDS were compared for cases grouped according to bedsharing status.
Mean ages at death were 9.1 weeks for 30 bedsharing and 12.7 for 54 nonbedsharing cases, counting 10 with missing information as nonbedsharing. Mean pregravid weights of bedsharing mothers exceeded those of nonbedsharing mothers (84.1 vs 67.0 kg). Mean ages at death for nonbedsharing infants, bedsharing infants of smaller mothers, and bedsharing infants of larger mothers were 12.7, 10.3, and 7.6 weeks, respectively. Large maternal size did not affect age at death in the absence of bedsharing.
By demonstrating that among an urban population at high risk for SIDS, bedsharing is strongly associated with a younger age at death, independent of any other factors, this study provides evidence of a relationship between some SIDS-like deaths and parent-infant bedsharing, particularly if the parent is large.