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New guidelines for co-sleeping with newborns

SA has implemented recommendations of the state coroner to encourage babies to sleep in their own beds.

Parents will be discouraged from taking babies into their own beds under new safe sleeping guidelines released by the South Australian Government.

The guidelines follow a series of recommendations from state coroner Mark Johns after an inquest into the deaths of five babies between July 2007 and November 2008.

The youngest was aged just three weeks and the oldest 10 months.

While the cause of death remained undetermined in four of the cases, the babies were all sharing a bed or were sleeping with an adult when they died.

In one case an autopsy concluded a month-old baby girl had suffocated after becoming trapped between the cushion and the back of a couch after falling asleep with her father.

SA Health Minister John Hill said the coroner found that adults sleeping with babies greatly increased the risk of sudden and unexplained infant death.

"The safest place for your baby to sleep is in its own cot in the same room as you, not with you on the couch, the bed or any other place," Hill said.

The government said the new guidelines for safe sleeping were in line with recommendations now promoted in many other countries.

Families and Communities Minister Jennifer Rankine said there had been some debate about co-sleeping.

"But here in South Australia we have chosen the safest approach and one that can be applied universally," Rankine said.


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