Study Shows Association Between Bed-Sharing in Toddlerhood with Later Wheezing and Asthma

In the December, 2014, edition of the European Respiratory Journal, researchers “tested if parent–infant bed-sharing, an important dimension of household crowding, increases or decreases the risk for asthma.” The authors “assessed bed-sharing at 2 and 24 months; wheezing between 1 and 6 years of age; and asthma at 6 years of age. Generalised estimating equation models were used to assess repeated measures of wheezing and asthma.”

The researchers reported “no association between bed-sharing in early infancy and wheezing or diagnosis of asthma. By contrast, we found a positive association between bed-sharing in toddlerhood and both wheezing and asthma….This study suggests that bed-sharing in toddlerhood is associated with an increased risk of asthma at later ages, and not vice versa. Further studies are needed to explore the underlying causal mechanisms.”

In a separate statement, one of the researchers said the study “could suggest that bed-sharing increases the risk of asthma in some way, but this study does not provide causal evidence of this. There could be a number of factors at play here. For example, bed-sharing families might be more likely to report wheezing because they are more attentive or aware of their children’s breathing. Alternatively, families might perceive wheezing as problematic and as something that could lead to sleep problems, which might in turn elicit bed-sharing to better monitor these problems. More research is needed to identify the factors that may impact on the development of asthma through bed-sharing.”

The study abstract is available online.