Skip to comments.More City Infants are Dying in Bed
Posted on 07/04/2007 4:19:23 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
(Unsafe sleep environments blamed)
The number of infants who died after being placed in an unsafe sleep environment has skyrocketed since December, Milwaukee health officials say.
Milwaukee Health Commissioner Bevan Baker called the trend "alarming" and a "crisis" that the city must address by rethinking how to tell people not to sleep in the bed with their babies and to always place them on their backs whenever they put them to sleep.
Baker says he understands that parenting is a tough job.
"Many of these families tell us that it was just a temporary lapse or that they just sat or laid the child down for a moment," he added. "But an unsafe sleep environment will affect any baby - no matter the race - and so the advice given to parents has to be continuously reinforced by the community and anyone who comes into contact with mom, dad and baby."
Each month the Pediatric Death Review team, which consists of about a dozen organizations throughout the city, meets to brainstorm over the cause of infant deaths and to identify prevention strategies. In some cases, final causes of deaths may be pending, said Milwaukee County Medical Examiner Jeffrey Jentzen.
During the June review, the Milwaukee Health Department says, the team noticed that there had been 18 deaths between December and May in which an unsafe sleeping environment may have been a contributing factor. Of the 18 cases, 16 infants were co-sleeping with an adult and / or a sibling at the time of death, they say.
Last year, there were nine deaths related to unsafe sleep environments during the same period.
Jentzen said the percentage of deaths in which co-sleeping is a factor has been steadily increasing and is now involved in about 80% of cases the team investigates. His office uses a doll to have families re-enact how the baby was found because it provides a concrete visualization of the scene, he said.
Despite efforts to decrease infant mortality in Milwaukee, babies born to African-American mothers continue to die at a greater rate than those born to white mothers. In January, the Fetal Infant Mortality Review Report found that the overall infant mortality rate for Milwaukee remained steady at 12 deaths per 1,000 live births from 2002-'04, but it found that the rate among blacks was significantly higher - 19.4 - in that period. About 81% of the citywide infant deaths were in 12 central-city ZIP codes.
The majority of the babies looked at during last month's team review were African-American and lived in three central city ZIP codes: 53206, 53212 and 53215.
The causes of death for these babies included entrapment and sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.
SIDS refers to those deaths that remain unexplained after all known causes have been ruled out through autopsy, investigation and medical history. It claims the lives of about 2,500 infants each year, according to the American SIDS Institute. Over the past 10 years, Wisconsin has had more than 1,000 confirmed cases.
According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the national SIDS rate has fallen almost 50% since the launch of the "Back to Sleep" campaign in 1994, which urges parents to put their infants to sleep on their backs, rather than on their stomachs. Parents have also been told to remove all soft bedding from the crib and to make sure the baby sleeps alone.
"There are many reasons why (co-sleeping) happens," said Anne Harvieux, program administrator for the Infant Death Center of Wisconsin, based at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa.
For example, some people may not agree that the baby should be put to sleep alone, while others might not have the money to buy a crib, she said.
And there are many myths to overcome, said Kathy Elertson, pediatric nurse educator for Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-St. Joseph.
"To many, SIDS is considered crib death and people think that it is the crib causing the death," she said. "And we still have parents that say 'I'll put him in the bed with me and then I'll hear if something happens.'"
Very sad. There is no reason for this.
Common sense is in short supply.
I slept with all my babies. It was a good way to wake up stiff and achy, because I would not bend an ankle before waking up and checking where they were.
Not that I trusted dh, a very sound sleeper - I made myself a wall around the baby.
Let me guess...
But I also didn’t get drunk or do drugs while doing so.
No, I didn’t get a lot of deep, restfull sleep in the first year, but then again, I didn’t expect to do so....
People have been sleeping with their babies for a long time. It has to be something else.
Wow. I was almost afraid to admit I too slept with my baby. I mean, yeah, you can roll over on the baby but mothers just don’t do that. That is sober mothers not on a drug induced high. Babies will cry if you roll on them I would imagine and again, a mother, a REAL mother, would hear that infant at first whimper.
I just don’t buy that sleeping with an infant can kill the thing. There’s more to this story than meets the eye.
What am I not seeing or understanding here?
Please see my post CD. I had the same reaction but I posted before you.
Sleeping with babies just does NOT kill them. You’ll have to convince me.
You need a firm unsagging mattress, pillows well out of the way, and light covers only. We also took the foam pad off the mattress. The most successful arrangement was taking one side rail off the crib, and wedging it against the bed with NO gaps - wired the frames together. The crib mattress was half an inch lower than the bed mattress. I could keep an arm around the baby, pull him/her in to nurse, not worry about dh rolling over, and have a little more room to sleep in.
I’m not questioning the number of deaths, but as to the “confirmed” cause, I call BS.
IMO, there are allot of people getting away with infanticide or as the Liberals would say “forth trimester abortions”.
Although I slept with mine, it’s not for everybody. I was a very light sleeper and rarely moved an inch all night long. Which by the way is a difficult habit to break. :(
As for people not being able to afford a crib, that’s baloney. If a person hasn’t the brains to find a free crib, they can put the baby where they were sleeping, and sleep on the floor. Or put the baby in a box. According to my mother, that was not uncommon when she was little, and no shame either. (Unlike accepting welfare.)
I slept with my baby because that made it so easy to nurse him at night. Mothers have done this safely for 10,000+ years.
One possible hypothesis on the SIDS cases:
Maybe it’s one of those correlated-but-not-causal things. Like for instance, African-American women tend to have higher rates of gestational diabetes, pregnancy-related hypertension, and premature delivery. That may contribute to the SIDS deaths (that would be the causal part.)
But those same women may have been more likely to co-sleep with their babies because they felt the baby was a little frail and they felt co-sleeping would be more responsive and protective. To keep him cuddled-close and warm, etc.
Which is a mother’s natural and beneficial instinct to do: to stay as close to a very frail baby as she can.
So there’s a correlation, but the SIDS isn’t caused by the co-sleeping, it’s caused by the pregnancy risk-factors and prematurity.
Of course, if the baby has actually been laid-on and smothered, it could be because the mother has a drinking or drug problem which would cause the mother to pass out on the bed and not realize she’s overlaid the baby.
I agree with all of your first-hand experiences. There’s got to be more to this story because people cannot be THIS stupid. Well, one would at least hope so!
I was never blessed with an infant...my son was nearly four when he came into my life, well on his way to independence already. But fourteen nephews and nieces later, I’ve had plenty of “baby fixes” over the years. :)
I don't know when that changed--but I continue to tell my kids to put their kids on their tummies to sleep. It just makes better sense to me.
I don’t get it. My babies all slept on their tummies and survived. They had fitted bed sheets. But they all were able to raise their heads from that position practically from birth. I would think it would be easier for them to choke if on their backs.
That’s what I was taught too — put the babay to sleep on his/her tummy. But that has changed in recent years. Some people think the baby is going to smother that way, but all my babies were able to lift their heads almost from the beginninng. We had a bassinet for the first one until we could get the crib refinished. My husband used to call her “Little Turtle Head” because she was always trying to craneher neck to see over the side.
I think the baby feels more secureon his/her tummy. Have you ever wakened suddenly from sleep andnotknown where you are for an instant — had the feeling that you werefalling? I imagine that infants feel that way when they waken on their backs — nothing to hang on to.
Nonsense. Our baby arrived 10 days early, before the bassinet was delivered. She slept very nicely in a dresser drawer lined with a crib sheet . . . just like thousands of Southern farm babies before her!
I kept the bassinet right by my side of the bed, where I could stroke her back and just pick her up to nurse. When she slept through the night, she went into a drop-side crib in her own room, but if we hadn't had a bassinet or a crib, we could have just used the BOTTOM dresser drawer!
Now they say on the back only, supposedly there's some statistical correlation with SIDS is what I have heard.
But my babies insisted on sleeping kind of part way on their sides, with one knee drawn up and the other kind of trailing behind. You could put them on their tummies and then find them shortly afterwards sprawled to one side. So who knows?
Ive never met a baby anything that isnt comfy in ANY softly lined, warm, rather tight space...near its “tribe.” :)
Not only have mothers rolled over on babies since time immemorial, but also this was so common a cause of death among infants that medieval writers had a specific term to describe it (to "overlay"). See 1 Kings 3:19 in the KJV -- "And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it."
Your disbelief is contrary to centuries of actual historical events. The affluence that made it possible to place a child in a bed of its own had a significant positive effect on infant mortality. To argue otherwise is almost the equivalent of suggesting bleeding as a treatment for a fever: archaic, ignorant, and contrary to common sense. Regardless of whether you believe "real mothers" could smother a child while in bed with it, many have done so all throughout poor nations and history. Just because some mothers might be lucky enough or light enough sleepers to get away with it does not mean that universal adoption of this method would not have many tragic consequences...
“So theres a correlation, but the SIDS isnt caused by the co-sleeping, its caused by the pregnancy risk-factors and prematurity.”
SIDS death is more likely to occur in such cases, yes. But SIDS also happens to healthy babies born to healthy mothers.
” I made myself a wall around the baby.”
A baby needs to be safe in a crib.
Look, the article says there is a HUGE problem, or implies same, on infant death in the ghetto and also implies it’s because of mothers sleeping with their infants.
I believe there’s more to it than that and your eloquent but snooty answer doesn’t address that assertion.
Your response does prove that you slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
I am quite sure that there have been babies smothered by their sleeping mothers. But right here on this little visited thread several ladies, none of whom are bad or evil people, but several ladies have stated that they slept with their babies. Plenty of babies sleep with their parents and I’d almost argue that sleeping with one’s mother is more normal than otherwise. ALL animals sleep with their mother, at least when first born.
You state that the affluence that made it possible to put a child in its own bed has had a positive effect on infant mortality. How? I mean I can write words too that sound important, sober and serious. Where’s your statistics?
However, go to hell, if sleeping with one’s parents is dangerous than by all means it is stupid to do so. Understand my assertion is that sleeping with one’s mother is not as dangerous as made out to be. Sleeping with TWO parents...well I dunno.
The point being that I simply do not believe that large numbers of newborn infants are suddenly dying, only in certain zip codes mind you...give me some scientific snootiness about that...is because they are simply sleeping with their mothers.
You may believe this if you want. I have a bridge in Brookly to sell you, cheap.
Those mothers with suddenly dead babies are:
-sleeping DRUNK or SERIOUSLY DRUGGED with their baby
-telling authorities that all they did was lay down to sleep with the child and it woke up dead....but something else, neglect?...killed the child.
Like another poster said, they keep changeing our minds. First it was put baby on stomach...than on back. Now mothers are killing their babies in droves in certain zip codes only.
I daresay, and I’m only guessing here, but I daresay that very, very few babies are killed by the simple act of sleeping with their mother.
Common sense....it’s all we have sometimes.
So! Dresser drawer babies! My son was a Smithfield Ham baby: we lined one of those baskets they put hams in, with a pad on the bottom and a tiny crib sheet. He’s 17 now, but he’s always been a ham.
I forgot to say that that little puppy is from Wisconsin too — from Portage, home of the Queen of Lab Breeders.
Mother in pre-20th century society finds baby dead in the morning. Mother knows nothing about SIDS, heart problems, overwhelming infection, or any of the other things that killed little babies suddenly and silently - and inexplicably - before medicine got itself organized.
"Well, I must have rolled over on the baby while I slept."
Then of course you have to exclude those Hogarthian moms who were stoned on gin (and even in those days 'overlaying' was found far more commonly in the London slums) and evil people who abused children and then claimed they "found the baby dead."
Since cribs and bassinets are relatively recent innovations, and even now are found only among the more affluent in Western nations, if 'overlaying' were a serious problem you would be seeing a lot more of it.
LOL! Perinatal influence triumphs again!
I slept in a dresser drawer for a time. Mom had too many kids too fast, so improvised. My babies slept with me, especially if they were ill. We didn't have monitors back then, and I worried. The slightest sounds of infants wakes most mothers, who have the mothering instincts.
When my babies were born ‘63 ‘66 ‘72, I was told to never put them to sleep on their backs. They could choke on their own vomit was the reason I was told. Now I cringe when I see a newborn put down to sleep on their backs. I did not sleep with my babies but I could hear them whimper from the next room and I was up like a shot.
Well, which is it? No babies are killed by good mothers through overlaying or that it is infrequent? Unlike your original statement (which was quite absolute), I never said that either the study was valid or that 50% of children would die from sleeping with mothers. I simply pointed out that your absolute statement was not borne out historically or through common sense. Which it isn't. Even the most rabid pro-cosleeping websites will tell you that there is a danger of overlaying (most even recommend not sleeping with your child if you are overly tired that night... surely the sign of an abuser or druggie!</s>). Take a close look at who made absolute and non-commonsensical statements in their post... especially statements based on what they want to believe rather than what they have investigated (I have no dog in this hunt, I've never even known a mother who has lost her infant... unlike others who might want to justify their behavior by anecdote). Oh, and please keep arguing with the idea that affluence and separate sleeping has had no effect on child mortality... even cosleeping professionals don't attack that (they tend to promote the emotional and developmental benefits).
Sleep with your baby however you want. But when you make absolute statements denigrating an entire class of people with nothing more than your own opinion to back you up... expect to get stomped on...
P.S. Note that disputing the historical record requires speculation (i.e. the mother didn’t know why the baby died, etc.) that is at best no more reputable than the historical report... and is most likely much less so. So if I have to assume anything, I’ll assume that most of the folks who reported overlaying actually did so... and not try convoluted rationalizations to reinterpret them...
There actually is a product available that is the same thing as what you describe. A little bed that is minus one side that attaches onto one side of the parents' bed. My daughter had one for her baby. I had never seen one before. I would imagine they are expensive, though. My daughter and SIL have always spent a lot of money on their little girl.
Very, very cute! We’ve had Black Labs for a long time now. Lost the oldest one last fall, and the next to oldest is on her way out, too. (Cancer.) Both had long, loving lives.
The worst part? We’ll be stuck with a “mooney” Basset Hound when the last one passes on. :(
I love puppies, but I think I’m about done with raising dogs. I just FINALLY got the boys out of the house and I’m lovin’ it, LOL!
I think I'm right. You don't. You like making a big deal out of nothing. Those babies are NOT dying because their wonderful loving mothers are sleeping with them.
Believe what you want.
I shall believe what I want. I've stated my piece, you've stated yours (with no statistics, just words that hey, I can type words too). I shall move on. Talk to yourself.
We’ve managed to have nine babies survive sleeping with us. Every other child preferred sleeping alone after about six months. The others were rather attached to me until they were kicked out by the next baby . . .
The funniest thing that has happened with a baby in bed with me was when our cat decided to have kittens in our bed. She hopped right on the bed next to me and our oldest son, and the next thing I knew, there was a kitten. I guess our kitty thought I was an expert or something.
I believe your explanation, a common sense thing which a lot of people just don’t get...is right on.
“I rolled on to the baby when I slept” is a catch all phrase that likely explains nothing.
It’s how I intuit all the brouhaha.
And intuitively, I simply do not believe that large amounts of babies from certain zip codes are dying because their mothers are rolling over on them.
Just a guess here but beat me up I’ll simply never believe this.
Wisdom, they say, is an abundance of common sense. Plenty on thread are expressing skepticism as well they should.
It makes no sense.
I don't think Fishtalk denigrated an entire class of people unless you consider substance abusers to a class of people.
I had a cat what had kittens in my bed too! What a hoot! I heard these little “mews” and looked over and there was my cat popping out yet another one!
Nine babies lived through sleeping with you, heh? Weird since they’re all dying in those specific zip codes for the same thing.
I think you’re right about that six month thing. At some point babies gleefully accept their own bed and as I recall, it was around 6 months of age. Before that I truly think a child really bonds with a mother by sleeping with her. Cats do it, dogs do it....all sorts of mammals do it because of the nursing thing. Humans are mammals. I simply, using common sense, do not believe that sleeping with a baby kills it.
Hey, science told me that having too many kids will over-populate the earth so I dutifully reproduced only one time and now I find out this “science” was bunk.
Now we have global warming.
I’m going with my good common sense here. I think folks in those suspect zip codes are taking their already dead and neglected babies and putting them into bed with them to claim this as cause of death. Creating, go with me here, more JUNK SCIENCE for the “scientists”!
Yeah, I believe this. Shoot me.
Actually, her statement was that no "real" mother would ever overlay her child, only drug abusers. In other words, any woman who has accidently smothered her child is a drug-abuser or child-abuser. Seems like a categorical denigration to me.
Of course I didn’t denigrate a “class of people”. Hey, I don’t even know what sorts of people live in those suspect zip codes. I don’t know their nationality, religion, color or idealogy. I only know that in those suspect zip codes babies are dying because, why? ...because they’re SLEEPING WITH THEIR MOTHERS?
I got a bridge to sell cheap. For there’s more going on in those zip codes than little babies sleeping innocently besides their loving mothers.
Real cheap...this bridge I got to sell.
Charles H. I make good points and I think I’m right.
You can interpret my words however you want.....plenty of people on this thread seem to understand them.
Hey, I got a bridge for sale, real cheap. You seem like just the right purchaser.
I am simply challenging the validity of the proof -- i.e. the deaths attributed to smothering may have had other medical causes which were unknown at the time, or were caused by intoxication. In other words, your premise is invalid because other factors have not been accounted for. That's not 'convoluted rationalization', that's pointing out the inherent weakness in your argument.
We don't start even, so to speak, because you have the burden of proof here.
Early Sunday morning, I turn over and feel something hot and wet next to my arm . . . it's Kitten Number One! So I got up and got Momma Cat a beach towel, and we proceeded with labor and delivery right there. I guess she wanted to be near us in her time.
Once she had them, though, she insisted in keeping them in a large wicker trash basket beside the bed, instead of in the nice queening box with heat lamp that I had all prepared for her. So I moved the receiving blankets and newspapers into the trash basket . . . . you just can't argue with a momma cat, at least it's not worth the trouble.
My wife and I have two sons. The oldest sometimes slept with us when he was a baby, and our one year old occasionaly makes it into bed with us as well. Methinks parenting has a lot to do with this problem up north.
Raising puppies IS a lot of hassle. A friend of mine just got a new little Boykin Spaniel pup yesterday -- she calls me at LEAST once a day asking for advice!!!!! Just got off the phone with her.
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