There has been a worrying article doing the rounds over the last few days claiming that babies should be slept on their mother’s chest in bed at night. This article originally appeared in 2011 and was re-circulated on Thursday. The research quoted was a tiny study of around 16 babies carried out 6 years ago and the articles oversimplify the paper on this research to the point that it misrepresents what was actually written. While having a baby sleep on mother’s (or father’s) chest whilst parents are awake has not been shown to be a risk, and such close contact is in fact beneficial, sleeping a baby on their front when unsupervised gives rise to a greatly increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) also known as cot death. There is no evidence to suggest that this risk is less if the baby sleeps prone (on their front) on the chest of a sleeping adult.
A recent article published in Archives of Disease in Childhood (Why or how does the prone sleep position increase the risk of unexpected and unexplained infant death? Peter Fleming, Peter Blair, Anna Pease, Arch Dis Child 2017-313331) sets out the reasons very clearly why sleeping babies on their front is a risk factor for SIDS. The article also highlights the dangers of devices that hold baby in a prone position in which they may fall asleep.
Scientific research has conclusively proved that sleeping a baby on their back in a clear sleep space significantly reduces the risk of SIDS. Since the government Back to Sleep campaign in 1991 made this public knowledge the rate of SIDS has dropped by more than 80%. To encourage parents to disregard proven advice that could save their baby’s life is irresponsible and very damaging to the great strides that have been made in reducing the number of families going through the devastation of losing a baby. We have complained to all the outlets that have run this story please send us a link if you spot this article anywhere and we will follow it up.