9 Dec 2008

Coroner investigates bed-sharing with infants

5:53 pm on 9 December 2008

A coroner is again investigating the risks to babies of sharing a bed with their parents.

The Wellington Coroner's Court on Tuesday examined seven cases of infants who died in their sleep.

At least four of the babies died while sleeping in the same bed as their mothers.

While hearing evidence, Coroner Garry Evans repeatedly asked the mothers about the safety of the sleeping arrangements and the advice they received from midwives.

Wellington hospital pathologist Jane Zuccollo told the court that babies are at significantly increased risk from sharing a bed with parents who smoke, have been drinking or taking drugs, or who are excessively tired.

Dr Zuccollo says bed-sharing is extremely common but there are ways it can be made safe, such as using a special bassinette on top of the bed.

The Coroner's findings on the cause of death will be released early next year.