Thursday, 16 December 2010

SIDS: Pennsylvania: co-sleeping

Officials target infant deaths
An increase in the number of accidental infant deaths in Lackawanna County has led to a new educational campaign by county and medical officials.
There have been six infant deaths in the past two years that can be attributed to accidental suffocation while sleeping with an adult and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, according to District Attorney Andy Jarbola.
So far this year, three infants have died while sleeping in the same bed as their parents, Lackawanna County Deputy Coroner Tim Rowland said.
Every child's death is investigated by the county's Child Death Review Team. What the group has found is that many infant deaths could have been avoided if more education were available for parents and caregivers.
On Wednesday, the team launched what it is calling the Safe Sleep Initiative, wherein educational information will be distributed at doctors' offices and hospitals and through brochures, posters, billboards and public service announcements.
Having a child die in this way "is one of the worst things that could happen to a parent," said Jeanne Rosencrance, project director for the Child Death Review Team. "There's a tremendous guilt on the part of the parent."
When adults share a sleeping space with infants, they could unknowingly roll over onto the child, cutting off his or her oxygen supply, according to Dr. Stanley Blondek, director of pediatrics and newborn services at Moses Taylor Hospital. The child also could become wedged into small spaces between the wall and the mattress or next to the headboard, officials said.
Parents also could fall asleep while holding or nursing an infant, dropping or accidentally suffocating the child, Mrs. Rosencrance said.
There have been several cases of SIDS in the past few years, too. SIDS is a term used to describe a sudden and unexplained death of a baby, usually between 1 month and 1 year old.
Experts say the best way to avoid SIDS is to place infants on their backs when putting them down to sleep. But many caregivers are not aware that babies should sleep on their backs, Dr. Blondek said.
Mr. Jarbola said new parents still need to be educated on the proper way to put an infant down in the crib - on his or her back and without any toys, blankets or pillows.
"Nothing but a baby should be in the crib," he said. "That's the message we're carrying."
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