Co-sleeping, an unsafe sleep practice, is one of the top causes of preventable infant deaths
TAMPA, FL. (June 29, 2017) – In the Tampa Bay area, more than 150 infants died of preventable sleep-related causes in the last five years (2011-2016). Twenty-six of those deaths occurred in 2016, and several more babies have died as the result of unsafe sleep practices in just the first half of 2017.
The Prevent Needless Deaths campaign is urging parents and caregivers to learn about the risks, implement safe sleep practices for infants, and share the information with family members and friends.
Co-sleeping, which means having babies sleep in the same bed as parents, siblings or caregivers, is often the cause of sleep-related infant deaths. More infants die in adult beds than anywhere else, and infants are 40 times more likely to die in an adult bed than in their own crib.
A baby who is co-sleeping may suffocate when an adult unintentionally rolls on top of them, or if the baby slides against a pillow or blanket that blocks their airway. Infants often can’t escape these dangerous positions because they lack the muscle control to move their necks. Pillow-top mattresses, comforters, fluffy pillows, and stuffed animals are a danger to infants in adult beds, as well as in cribs.
“Sleep-related infant death has become an epidemic in our area, but we can begin to prevent these tragedies with proper education on safe sleep practices,” said Kelley Parris, Executive Director of the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, one of the partner organizations in the Prevent Needless Deaths campaign. “We have a responsibility to keep the youngest members of our community safe.”
The Prevent Needless Deaths campaign advises parents and caregivers to follow these safe sleep practices for infants:
1. Practice the ABCs of safe sleep. The safest way for infants to sleep is Alone on their Backs in a Crib. This minimizes the risk of the infant suffocating, especially if they have not yet developed neck muscle control.
2. Bring the crib into the parent or caregiver’s room. Sharing a room with a child offers almost all of the same benefits of sharing a bed, but without the risks. It’s recommended to bring the baby’s crib, or a smaller bassinet, into the parents’ room for the first year of the baby’s life.
3. Be prepared for naptime and bedtime away from home. If a child sleeps at someone else’s home, such as with grandparents or other caretakers, make sure they have the proper sleeping arrangements like a crib or pack-n-play with a fitted sheet. Do not use a blow-up mattress, which also pose a significant danger to infants.
4. Follow crib setup recommendations. A crib’s mattress should be firm and fit snugly inside the crib’s frame. Crib sheets should fit tightly around the mattress. A baby’s sleeping area should be free of blankets, pillows, bumper pads, stuffed animals, sleep positioners and toys.
5. Learn from the past. We know more today than we did yesterday. As more information becomes available, parents and caregivers must let go of some practices in order to provide children with the safest environment possible for sleeping. We changed our habits about car seats and lead paint; it’s time to change our habits on co-sleeping.
In addition to unsafe sleep practices, the Prevent Needless Deaths campaign aims to educate parents and caregivers on the other two top causes of preventable deaths among infants and children: drowning and head trauma. The campaign is a partnership with the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, Eckerd Kids and the Florida Department of Children and Families.
To learn more about preventing needless deaths among children, visit www.PreventNeedlessDeaths.com.
About Prevent Needless Deaths
Prevent Needless Deaths is an awareness campaign that aims to educate people in Hillsborough County on how to prevent needless deaths among children related to water safety, safe sleep practices and head trauma prevention. The campaign is made possible by the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, Eckerd Kids and the Florida Department of Children and Families. www.PreventNeedlessDeaths.com.