Newsroom > DHHS News Release


March 25, 2008

Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047 or

Note: Sound bites on this topic are available at:


Chief Medical Officer Warns about Danger to Infants of Bed-sharing

Lincoln—The state’s Chief Medical Officer is calling for more public awareness of the dangers of bed-sharing after six deaths in the past six weeks of Nebraska babies that appear to have involved co-sleeping with parents.

"Bed-sharing increases the risk of suffocation and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It’s important that parents and other caregivers understand the danger," said Dr. Joann Schaefer, the state’s Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Division of Public Health of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. "Sleeping with an infant can be comforting to both the baby and the parents, but it can be deadly."

Between one-third and one-half of Nebraska infant deaths attributed to SIDS every year are associated with co-sleeping. In 2006, of 20 sleep-associated or SIDS deaths, eight of the infants were known to be bed-sharing. Provisional data from 2007 show that of 13 sleep-associated or SIDS deaths, at least five involved bed-sharing.

In 2006 the Legislature passed a bill requiring that hospitals, birthing centers and other medical facilities show each mother and father a video presentation and provide written information approved by DHHS on the dangers of SIDS, including information about the danger of having infants sleep in the same bed with adults or other children. The written information is also required to cover the dangers of shaking children and measures to prevent SIDS. Videos and brochures are available on the DHHS Web site at

DHHS is sending an informational letter to health care providers across the state, urging them to work with their patients to ensure that babies are sleeping safely.

Dr. Schaefer offered this advice to parents of infants: Have nothing but the baby in the crib when he or she is sleeping—no bumper pads, blankets, toys or articles of clothing.

Other advice:

  • Put a baby to sleep on a firm surface, not in an adult bed or on a couch or futon.
  • Always place a baby on his or her back to sleep.
  • Provide a smoke-free environment. Exposure to secondhand smoke doubles a baby’s risk of SIDS.

For more information go to

- 30 -