Health officials say new mothers should be taught about the risks of sleeping with their babies in a bid to reduce cot death rates.
Parents should learn about safe sleeping habits for babies to cut the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has warned.
Around 250 babies die from sudden infant death syndrome in England and Wales every year and Nice says parents should be made aware of the link between cot death and falling asleep with a baby up to the age of one.
Babies born prematurely or with a low birth weight are at an increased risk of cot death if they sleep with their parents. The risks are also significantly higher if parents drink, smoke or take drugs.
Nice’s clinical practice director professor Mark Baker said:
“Falling asleep with a baby, whether that’s in a bed or on a sofa or chair, is risky.
It’s imperative that all parents and carers know about the association between sudden infant death syndrome and falling asleep with a child under the age of one.
This is especially important if parents drink alcohol, take drugs or expose their baby to tobacco smoke.
There is no universal agreement on the causes of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
We know there is a link between SIDS and falling asleep with a baby in a bed or on a sofa or chair, but studies into why this happens can often give conflicting results.”
New guidance by Nice has been out for consultation until the end of the month.