Co-sleeping Infant Deaths on the Rise

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Kid's Doctor

Posted on July 22, 2014 at 5:01 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 22 at 5:01 AM

Some parents prefer the closeness of sleeping with their infant during naps and through the night; often called co-sleeping, bed sharing or family bed. However, the facts support that using a crib is much safer for baby.

Texas, like some other states, is seeing a dramatic rise in infant deaths related to co-sleeping. So far this year in Texas, there have been 164 cases reported, which is on pace to surpass the record of 174 co-sleeping deaths investigated by CPS in 2011.

The state has responded by launching a $100,000 ad campaign to discourage co-sleeping between parents and babies.

“The main message is we want parents to create a safe sleeping environment for their babies,” said Paul Zimmerman, media specialist with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).

Children under one year old are at the most risk of dying during co-sleeping according to the DFPS. Of the 164 deaths reported so far in 2014, 160 were under one.

Babies aren’t strong enough to move themselves if they end up face down in a pillow, blanket, arm or chest.  The most common cause of death during co-sleeping is when the parent accidently rolls over on the child.

The DFPS website provides the “ABCs of Infant Sleep.”

  • A - Babies should sleep alone.
  • B - On their backs with no blankets or bedding.
  • C  - In a crib and cool (70 degrees).
  • S  - In a smoke-free environment.

“These are preventable tragedies, and risk can be minimized when parents/caregivers follow some common sense do’s and don’ts,” Zimmerman said.

Other suggestions to help avoid infant suffocation are on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) website. 

  • Place your baby on a firm mattress, covered by a fitted sheet that meets current safety standards. For more about crib safety standards, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Web site at http://www.cpsc.gov.
  • Place the crib in an area that is always smoke - free.
  • Don’t place babies to sleep on adult beds, chairs, sofas, waterbeds, pillows, or cushions.
  • Toys and other soft bedding, including fluffy blankets, comforters, pillows, stuffed animals, bumper pads, and wedges should not be placed in the crib with the baby.
  • Loose bedding, such as sheets and blankets, should not be used as these items can impair the infant’s ability to breathe if they are close to his or her face. Sleep clothing, such as sleepers, sleep sacks, and wearable blankets are better alternatives to blankets.

Co-sleeping advocates say that there are benefits to sharing the bed with an infant such as babies go to sleep quicker and sleep longer. Breastfeeding is easier and mothers are more rested. They often recommend the same safeguards such as a firm mattress and no toys or pillows.

Pediatricians and other childhood health experts, on the other hand, believe that co-sleeping is too risky and that these types of infant deaths are totally avoidable by placing a crib or a bassinette next to the bed instead.

Sources: Blake Ursch, http://lubbockonline.com/health/2014-07-04/texas-launches-campaign-curb-infant-sleeping-deaths#.U8ghVRZUMpE

http://www.healthychildren.org

http://www.dfps.state.tx.us

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