A report published in the European Respiratory Journal indicates that toddlers who share a family bed have a higher risk of developing asthma later in life.
According to a Medscape news report, the researchers derived data for this project from a larger, population-based prospective cohort study and researchers from the Erasmus University Medical Center used a parental questionnaire to evaluate bed-sharing practices among families with children at ages 2 and 24 months. The researchers included 6,160 children in this analysis.
For the study, respiratory symptoms, specifically wheezing, were also assessed via questionnaire at ages 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 years, and all children were assessed at least twice. The research team found that 22.8% of children shared a bed with their parents at 2 months of age and 11.6% were bed-sharing at 2 years of age.
The Medscape news report notes that at 6 years of age, the prevalence of physician-diagnosed asthma was 8.0%, and correlations between wheezing reported by the mother and physician-diagnosed asthma increased from 1 to 6 years.
In addition, children who shared a bed with their parents at 24 months of age were more likely to experience respiratory signs between 3 and 6 years of age, and this association remained significant after adjusting for confounders such as the child’s sex, maternal educational level, and smoking, according to Medscape. A physician diagnosis of asthma was also linked with bed-sharing at 24 months but not at 2 months.
The authors found no link between early wheezing and later bed-sharing. The authors of the study write that the findings “indicate an association between bed-sharing in toddlerhood and later wheezing.” The authors conclude, “Our findings suggest that children who bed-shared in toddlerhood have higher odds of wheezing at ages three to six, and higher odds of being diagnosed with asthma at age six.”
The authors suggest that parents who share a bed with their child may be more aware of respiratory issues or may choose to have the child in bed with them as a means of monitoring their breathing.