These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image caption Babies should be positioned on their back when they go to sleep to minimise the risk of sudden infant death syndrome Sharing a bed with a newborn increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome fivefold, research claims. The risk applies even if parents avoid tobacco, alcohol and drugs - other factors firmly linked to cot deaths.
The BMJ Open research compared nearly 1, cot deaths with a control group of more than 4, parents. Current guidance in the UK is that parents should decide where their baby sleeps, but says the safest option is in a crib or cot in the same room.
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No consensus Many other countries, such as the US and the Netherlands, go further and say parents should not share a bed with their baby for the first three months of his or her life. The government said it had asked the public health watchdog NICE to urgently examine its guidance on co-sleeping in light of this new study.
Unicef UK is concerned that any guidance that recommends the total avoidance of bed-sharing could end up forcing parents into much riskier practices such as feeding in arm-chairs or sofas where the risk of suffocating the baby is far higher.
Others question how robust the latest analysis is. Prof Carpenter maintains avoiding bed-sharing would save lives - by his calculations, of the cot deaths that occur in the UK each year.
Cut smoking in pregnancy, including dads. Don't let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby.
The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a crib or cot in a room with you for the first six months. Never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair. Do not let your baby get too hot, and keep their head uncovered. The Lullaby Trust In his analysis, one or both parents had been sleeping with their child at the time of death in a fifth of cases. Only one in every 10 parents in the control group said they had shared a bed with their baby.
Prof Carpenter says he is not suggesting that babies should be banned from being in the parents' bed for comfort and feeding. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionEva Andreotti, mother of an month-old: But he says evidence shows that babies are safest sleeping alone in their own cot in the same bedroom as their parent or carer.
Francine Bates, of the safer baby sleep charity The Lullaby Trust, said:
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