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Tired father who cradled two-day-old to soothe him and let his partner sleep woke to find his son dead beside him.

Like many new parents, for Poppy Jones and Luke Gower the birth of their baby son Vincent was overwhelming.

Ms Jones went into premature labour and gave birth to Vincent at 36 weeks in November last year.

He was fit and healthy and a wonder for his parents and extended family.

Vincent Jones died last November. Via Facebook.

The couple from Kent in the UK posted doting images of their beloved boy on social media, surrounded by hearts and filled with warm congratulations from friends.

At two days old the family were back home and when Vincent wouldn't settle and his exhausted mother clearly needed some rest Luke offered to soothe his son to sleep so Poppy Jones could get a much needed break.

He walked with the newborn patting his back and gave him a feed at 10pm, he then lay in bed with the two-day-old cradled on his chest while he patted him to sleep.

“I gave him one feed when Poppy went to bed and then I was walking around with him patting his back,” Mr Gower said.

“I was sitting with him trying to get him to go to sleep. I sat in bed with him.”

But when he woke at 7am his newborn son was no longer cradled in his arms, but tragically lying lifeless and facedown beside him in the bed.

The heartbroken parents of Vincent have given evidence at an inquest into his death.

Poppy Jones and Luke Gower. Via Facebook.

At the inquest Pathologist Kio Palm said baby Vincent had suffered 'a sudden unexpected death in infancy in an unsafe sleeping environment', adding that a post mortem examination had not revealed any underlying health problems or abnormalities reports Kent OnLine.

She said that co-sleeping, the act of sleeping in close proximity with a baby can have a number of fatal consequences.

Assistant coroner Christine Freedman said: “He was a healthy, normally grown baby with no abnormalities in his development.”

Mrs Freedman recorded a verdict of accidental death.

The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death for baby Vincent. Via Facebook.

Experts remain divided on the dangers of co-sleeping.

SIDS and Kids, Australia's foremost authority on the issue say that sharing a sleep surface with a baby “increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and fatal sleep accidents in some circumstances.”

Luke Gower said he was simply trying to get him to go to sleep. "I sat in bed with him." Via Facebook.

They recommend instead parents give their baby their own safe sleeping environment next to the parent’s bed for the first six to twelve months of life.

A recent study found that babies of mothers younger than age 20 are at higher risk for sleep-related sudden death than babies of older mothers. The study in The Journal of Pediatrics, April 21 found that although most teen mothers know that co-sleeping with their baby or putting the baby to sleep with soft bedding or blankets increases the risk of (SIDS), many do so anyway.

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“I was quite surprised to hear almost all of them admit making deliberate decisions to practice unsafe sleep behaviors despite being aware of SIDS and having been told about the risk factors,” said lead author Dr. Michelle Caraballo of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas told Reuters.

Last year a mother in the US made a public plea for parents to stop co-sleeping.

Angela Bono with her partner. Via Facebook.

Angela Bono, from Grand Rapids, Michigan in the US lost her five-month-old. The young mother woke up to find him suffocated in bed next to her.

“No matter how difficult it may seem at the time, put them to sleep in their own crib and avoid the greatest pain that one can experience in life–the pain that we are now experiencing.” She wrote.

“We have to get the word out so more people understand that it can happen to them. It does happen. It does happen a lot. As much as you love to snuggle and cuddle your little one, please resist the temptation to do so in bed. No matter how difficult it may seem at the time, put them to sleep in their own crib and avoid the greatest pain that one can experience in life–the pain that we are now experiencing.”

In Australia 80% of parents admit to co-sleeping with their babies at some time in the first 6 months of life.

Various studies have examined deaths related to co-sleeping but one of the biggest, a study in 2013 from Birmingham City University examined 1,500 cases of SIDS. It revealed that an estimated 88 per cent of deaths that occurred while a child slept with their parents would not have happened if the baby had not been bed-sharing.

When no determined cause can be found for a baby’s death, doctors categorize it as SIDS.

In Australia 80% of parents admit to co-sleeping with their babies at some time in the first 6 months of life. Via IStock.

A second study the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths in the US reviewed 8,207 unexplained deaths grouping the data in two categories: deaths in those younger than four months old and deaths in infants older than four months old.

The study found that 74 percent of the younger infants were bed-sharing at the time of their death.

In the older group the babies were more likely to be found on their stomachs or surrounded by objects, such as stuffed animals, at the time of death.

But the practise remains  controversial with many claiming that the practise can be done safely and can have benefits including benefiting bonding and breastfeeding.

Safe co-sleeping

The Australian Breastfeeding Association say that breastfeeding and co-sleeping mutually support each other as breastfeeding is protective against SIDS. Further protecting her baby, a breastfeeding co-sleeping mother usually adopts a position that facilitates close physical contact and observation of her baby.

If you choose to co-sleep keep in mind these risk factors:

•   Smoking: A baby exposed to cigarette smoke (eg if the mother or father smokes, or the mother smoked during pregnancy) increases the risk of SIDS, regardless of where the baby sleeps.

•   Alcohol, drugs or extreme fatigue: babies are at increased risk of a fatal sleeping accident if they co-sleep with someone who is has consumed alcohol or illegal or sleep-inducing drugs or who is experiencing extreme fatigue.

•   Siblings: Babies are at increased risk of death if they co-sleep with more persons than their parents.

•   Obesity: Parents who are obese may not be able to feel exactly where or how close their baby is and so may wish to room-share with their baby

•   Formula fed babies: Dr James McKenna recommends that formula-fed babies room-share with their parents rather than co-sleep, because mothers who formula feed their babies do not demonstrate the same responsive night-time parenting practices as breastfeeding mothers.

•   Sofa-sharing: Using a sofa, couch, beanbag or armchair as a sleeping place for a baby increases the risk of a fatal sleeping accident.

•   Infant wrapping and swaddling: Do not wrap baby if sharing a sleep surface as this restricts arm and leg movement.

For more Australian Breastfeeding Association Co-Sleeping. 

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