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!