Summerside pediatrician warns against sharing beds with babies

Colin MacLean
Published on January 30, 2014
Dr. David Wong
Submitted photo

Dr. David Wong and Chief Coroner Dr. Charles Trainor have both come out against the practice of parents sleeping with babies


The Summerside pediatrician says he is not comfortable with parents sharing their bed with any young child, let alone an infant.

Dr. David Wong says he knows some parents ignore his advice when he urges against co-sleeping with infants and babies.

“They just look at me and wrinkle their noses,’’ he says.

“Definitely I know there are some people who promote bed sharing and there are some cultures that it is a norm.’’

However, Wong does not believe the practice is very common in P.E.I.

“Not having a baby in bed (with parents) is a much better way,’’ he says.

The issue of co-sleeping with babies made the news recently, though, when P.E.I. Chief Coroner Dr. Charles Trainor urged parents in a statement to avoid the practice.

Trainor cautioned that bed sharing where the infant is in bed with the adults is a very dangerous practice. He issued the warning in his coroner’s report that ruled the death of a baby boy in November was the result of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).

The six-month-old boy was in bed with his parents. The parents awoke around 3 a.m. on Nov. 15 in their Kensington home and found the infant unresponsive. The baby was rushed to the Prince County Hospital where he could not be resuscitated.

Wong endorses the messages that are conveyed by the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative in a paper on the link between bed-sharing and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

UNICEF concludes that the current body of evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the safest place for a baby to sleep is in a cot and not in a bed with others. Also, sleeping with a baby on a sofa puts the baby at the greatest risk, the group stresses.

The study also determines that a baby should not share a bed with anyone who is a smoker, has consumed alcohol and/or have taken drugs (legal or illegal) that make them sleepy.

According to the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative, the incidents of SIDS is higher in the following groups:

• Parents in low socio-economic groups;

• Parents who currently abuse alcohol or drugs;

• Young mothers with more than one child;

• Premature infants and those with low birthweight.

“We have a SIDS/SUDI death every one to two years in the province,’’ Trainor said in his coroner’s statement earlier this month.

“These deaths are very tragic to the families and to society. Removing all risk factors will lower the rate of SIDS/SIDU in our province.’’