Alert: Danger of babies sleeping in bed with parents

By Tracy Clemons – bio|email

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA)- A two month old baby boy is dead after being accidentally suffocated. KSLA News 12 is told he died while sleeping in the bed with his mother.

That makes five infants who died this way already this year, compared to three all of 2010.

"A lot of those overlaying deaths are associated with parents who have been consuming alcohol or who are obese and have problems with obstructive sleep apnea and don't necessarily wake up properly to the right signals," says Dr. David Smith with Sutton Children's Hospital.

"You're exhausted, you lose awareness, you roll over on the baby, and the baby can't breathe," adds Dr. Margaret Crittell.

Dr. Crittell is a pediatrician at Willis Knighton Pierremont. She says 75-percent of infant suffocations from co-sleeping are children under three months old.

"We try to counsel our parents to not pull them in bed with them, especially when they're really exhausted because that's the highest risk for them to roll over and suffocate them."

Baby cribs, bassinets, and baby beds are all designed for the safety of sleeping infants. Both doctors agree that parents of infants should just let the cribs do what they're designed to do.

"The babies do just fine on those," says Dr. Smith.

"We try to explain the risks, that the safest place for a baby to sleep is in its own crib, actually in the same room as parents," adds Dr. Smith.

Dr. Smith tells us some people treat it as a bonding experience. He says there are some precautions you can take if you insist on co-sleeping.

"Make sure the bed is cleared of fluffy soft things that the baby can sink down into...and that you have the baby positioned in a manner that would be safe, in terms of not directly to your side or your hip."

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