Unsafe sleep practices are killing babies in Anne Arundel County

Infant sleepingInfants should not sleep under blankets or with any loose bedding. Seven infants have died in Anne Arundel County during the first four months of this year due to unsafe sleeping practices, according to Elin Jones, public information director for the Anne Arundel County Department of Health.

This is a huge increase compared with five deaths total in the previous two years combined due to accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed, Jones said. The recent deaths are not being labeled as SIDS, which is defined as the sudden death of an infant less than one year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation. In these cases, all were related to unsafe sleeping practices, including infants sharing a bed and sleeping under piles of blankets, Jones said.

“Deaths due to unsafe sleeping practices are avoidable, and no family should have to suffer such a tragedy,” said Dr. David C. Rose, Anne Arundel County deputy health officer for public health and a pediatrician. “It is important for everyone — health care providers, child care workers, parents and relatives — to discuss and practice safe sleeping.”

A recent postpartum survey of Anne Arundel County Healthy Start parents found that only 48 percent received education on safe sleeping practices from their pediatricians. Even fewer, 6 percent, reported obtaining information from their obstetricians, according to Rose.

“Sadly, these seven infant deaths in four months have been a wake-up call that safe sleeping should not be taken lightly,” Rose said.

Parents, relatives, babysitters and caregivers should be aware of the following information from the Department of Health.

  • Co-sleeping and bed sharing can be deadly. Never let your baby sleep or nap with you or other people on a bed, sofa, chair or anywhere else.
  • Sleeping on the back is the safest for a baby. Tummy or side sleeping can be dangerous.
  • Don’t put fluffy, loose bedding, soft toys or plastic bags in a baby’s crib. Use a firm mattress covered by a well-fitting crib sheet.
  • Don’t let your baby get too hot. Try a one-piece sleeper or a sleep sack to prevent overheating.

Remember the ABCs of safe sleeping. Children younger than 1 year should sleep Alone on their Backs in a safe Crib.

For more information call 410-222-7223 or visit aahealthybabies.org.

By Betsy Stein