Thursday, 20 January 2011

SIDS: Omaha

OMAHA, Neb. -- Since Thanksgiving, Omaha’s Project Harmony says three babies in the metro area died from Sudden Unexpected Infant Death.

Experts say the children were kept too warm or too close or both, and suffocated as a result.

Tiffaney Longemore’s daughter died when Longemore fell asleep on the couch cradling the baby. Longemore recently shared her story with KETV Newswatch 7’s Melissa Fry, hoping to save other children.

“I found that her face was 75 percent in the couch,” remembered Longemore. “I went to go turn her over and I saw that her face was blue.”

Longemore’s daughter, Brooklyn, was only seven weeks old.

“I picked her up and I said, Brooklyn,” said Longemore. “I knew something was wrong.”

Brooklyn suffocated. Experts told KETV they see cases like hers all too often.

“Infants who are put down to sleep and never wake up,” explained Dr. Suzanne Haney, a pediatrician with Omaha’s Project Harmony.

On average, there are 24 unexpected child deaths in the metro every year. Project Harmony said half of those cases are babies who go to bed and never wake up.

Haney said the three unexpected, infant deaths Project Harmony has looked at since Thanksgiving all involved unsafe sleeping conditions, set up by well-meaning parents.

“They actually think they are helping their child by bundling them up and keeping them nice and warm,” said Haney. “Unfortunately, they're blocking the airway with pillows, thick, fluffy mattresses; all those things we think are comfort are actually risk factors for a baby.”

Haney said prevention will save lives.

“Get a thin blanket, tuck it around their chest,” described Haney. “Tuck it in around edge of crib so they're not at risk for suffocation.”

Tiffaney Longemore told Fry she now carries with her the ashes of her baby girl, Brooklyn.

“You know you're going to want to sleep with them,” Longemore told other parents. “It’s not worth losing your baby over. It’s not worth it. It’s not worth it at all.”

Government experts report Sudden Unexpected Infant Death is different from SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Experts said the decrease in SIDS cases may be due to an increase in unexpected deaths like accidental suffocated. Since many of these deaths are not investigated or under reported, it’s unclear how many cases there are nationwide.

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