14/08/2014 16:56 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Sweden Warns Of Cot Death Risk Of Bed-Sharing With Newborns

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Baby girl sleeping with mater (3-6 months)

Sweden has long been renowned as a country that embraces the practice of mums and dad sharing their beds with their newborn babies.

In fact, a 2001 study published in the paediatric journal Early Human Development showed that 65 per cent of three-month-old Swedish babies slept with their parents, the highest rate in the Western world.

But now health officials in the country have issued guidelines that warn of it increasing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Quoted in Medical Press, Kerstin Nordstrand, of the National Board of Health and Welfare, said: "It's important that children under three months sleep in their own beds."

She said the recommendation was 'new', since the institution had previously only advised against new-borns sleeping in the same room as a smoker, or in the same bed as a parent under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The information was first published by Swedish medical newspaper Dagens Medicin, which cited a paediatrics professor at Gothenburg University.

Professor Goeran Wennergren told the paper: "It has been clear in the research in recent years that co-sleeping is a risk factor in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)."

A report published by the British Medical Journal, which analysed nearly 1,500 sudden infant deaths, that revealed that 22 per cent of these happened while the baby slept in the parental bed.

According to professor of medical statistics Bob Carpenter, who was responsible for the study, the risk of sudden infant death among babies sleeping with their parents is five times higher than in those who sleep alone.

Other countries, including France and the U.S., recommend sleeping in the same room as the new-born, but not in the same bed.

SIDS is the unexpected, sudden death of a child under the age of one in which an autopsy does not show an explainable cause of death. It is also known as cot death.

Some recommendations to prevent SIDS include putting the baby to sleep on its back, with enough space to move, avoiding exposure to tobacco smoke and making sure they are not too hot.