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The ABCs of infant sleeping

Albany County highlights National Baby Safety Month, gives task force progress update

Dr. David Clark, left, and Albany County Executive Dan McCoy on Wednesday, Sept. 18, stand next to a sign outlining a new slogan developed by the Safe Sleep Task Force, which is “ABC” or “Alone on their Back in a Crib.”

Dr. David Clark, left, and Albany County Executive Dan McCoy on Wednesday, Sept. 18, stand next to a sign outlining a new slogan developed by the Safe Sleep Task Force, which is “ABC” or “Alone on their Back in a Crib.” Photo by John Purcell.

— “All family members, babysitters, day care staff and anyone caring for infants need to be informed and alert to the risks,” Marsch said.

Gladys Carrión, commissioner of the state Office of Children and Family Services, said “decades of conflicting information” surrounding best practices for babies has led to an “unfortunate number” of infant deaths.

“These tragedies are not inevitable,” Carrión said. “They are preventable.”

County officials announced the formation of the Safe Sleeping Task Force in March, and said 12 infant deaths tied to unsafe sleeping conditions were reported in the county over the past three years. The deaths were primarily attributed to adults rolling onto an infant and smothering them while sharing a bed, according to county officials.

Since then, McCoy has received sporadic pushback through posts on his Facebook page from those who support co-sleeping. One person accused McCoy of running a “smear campaign” and argued the practice of “bed sharing” reduces the chance of sudden infant death syndrome.

The medical journal BMJ Open published a study in May led by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine professor Bob Carpenter that found newborns sharing a bed with a parent are five times more likely to suddenly die when compared to a baby sleeping in a cot.

“The current messages saying that bed sharing is dangerous only if you or your partner are smokers, have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs that make you drowsy, are very tired or the baby is premature or of low-birth weight are not effective because many of the bed sharing deaths involve these factors,” the study read. “Our findings suggest that professionals and the literature should take a more definite stand against bed sharing, especially for babies (less than) 3 months old.”

The study is the largest ever conducted and involved analyzing individual records of 1,472 SIDS cases and 4,679 controls from five major case-control studies. Approximately 88 percent of bed sharing deaths analyzed in the study could have prevented if the baby wasn’t sharing a bed, according to the authors.

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