Parents who allow children into their bed could be giving them asthma

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It may be the source of comfort to the whole family.

However, the age old practice of allowing toddlers to climb into bed with their parents may actually be damaging their health, giving them an increased risk of developing asthma in later childhood.

A study has found that the study of 6,160 mothers and their children in Rotterdam showed no link between babies sleeping with parents and an increased risk of wheezing or asthma in the first six years of life.

But bed-sharing at the age of two led to a 42 per cent higher chance of wheezing symptoms at age three to six, and a 57 per cent greater likelihood of being diagnosed with asthma at age six.

One theory, that parents who notice wheezing symptoms in their children are more likely to keep them close by at night, was not confirmed by analysis.

Lead researcher Dr Maartje Luijk, from Erasmus University in Rotterdam, said: “The current study shows that there is an association between toddlers who share a bed with their parents at the age of two years and wheezing and asthma in later childhood.

“We postulated that the finding may be explained by parents taking the decision to share a bed with their toddler to monitor their asthma symptoms. However our results found no associations between pre-existing asthma symptoms in the first two years of life and bed-sharing at the age of two years.

“This 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.”