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Arch Dis Child 89:1106-1110 doi:10.1136/adc.2003.038067
  • Community child health, public health, and epidemiology

The prevalence and characteristics associated with parent–infant bed-sharing in England

  1. P S Blair1,
  2. H L Ball2
  1. 1FSID Research Department, Division of Child Health, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  2. 2Infancy and Childhood Research Group, Department of Anthropology, University of Durham, Durham, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr P S Blair
    FSID Research Department, Division of Child Health, Education Building, Upper Maudlin St, Bristol BS2 8AE, UK; p.s.blairbris.ac.uk
  • Accepted 2 February 2004

Abstract

Aims: To investigate the characteristics of parent–infant bed-sharing prevalence in England.

Methods: Data on night-time sleeping practices from a two year, local, longitudinal study and a three-year, national, cross-sectional study were obtained. A total of 261 infants in North Tees were followed up at 1 and 3 months of age, as were 1095 infants aged 1 week to 1 year from five English health regions.

Results: Data from both studies found that almost half of all neonates bed-shared at some time with their parents (local = 47%, 95% CI 41 to 54; national = 46%, 95% CI 34 to 58), and on any one night in the first month over a quarter of parents slept with their baby (local = 27%, 95% CI 22 to 33; national = 30%, 95% CI 20 to 42). Bed-sharing was not related to younger mothers, single mothers, or larger families, and was not more common in the colder months, at weekends, or among the more socially deprived families; in fact bed-sharing was more common among the least deprived in the first months of life. Breast feeding was strongly associated with bed-sharing, both at birth and at 3 months. Bed-sharing prevalence was uniform with infant age from 3 to 12 months; on any one night over a fifth of parents (national = 21%, 95% CI 18 to 24) slept with their infants.

Conclusion: Bed-sharing is a relatively common practice in England, not specific to class, but strongly related to breast feeding.

Footnotes