Increased infant deaths due to co-sleeping

FILE - Evelyn Steadman, 7-months old, sleeps on the chest of her grandmother, Kathleen Jones, at the baby's home in Crete, Ill. on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Jones, 52, is a longtime volunteer who cuddles newborn babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Chicago's Comer Children's Hospital. In August 2013 after Evelyn was born with brain damage due to a virus, she ended up in Comer's neonatal intensive care unit and, in addition to many family members, ended up being cuddled by volunteers also. Research shows that cuddling helps calm the babies, many who are born prematurely or who have serious health issues, and aids in their early development. The family says they have little doubt the extra cuddling helped Evelyn. (AP Photo/Martha Irvine)

TIPPECANOE CO., Ind. (WLFI) – Within the last 21 days, three infants have died in Tippecanoe County due to co-sleeping.

The recent incidents have the county’s Child Fatality Review Team looking for ways to educate parents. Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Patrick Harrington said awareness is the only way to stop these unnecessary infant deaths.

“If you know of any parent out there, or parents, who have a child 18 months or younger, call them now and tell them — ‘Do not sleep with your child’,” said Harrington.

It’s a tragedy he’s seen time and time again.

“They work, they come home, they’re fatigued, the child is fussy. They put the child on their chest, feeding the child, they fall asleep. It’s accidental, but these are things parents have to think through,” explained Harrington.

So far, there have been six infant deaths due to co-sleeping in 2015. There were three last year. Harrington said the only way to prevent it is to make sure everyone knows the dangers.

The Tippecanoe County Child Fatality Review Team is seeking ways to educate parents about the dangers of co-sleeping. They’re handing out free books to new parents. The book is called “Sleep Baby, Safe and Snug” — it’s a children’s book, but it provides a “Do and Don’t” list for parents on the back.

Hospitals like IU Health, Health Arnett and Franciscan St. Elizabeth are giving the books to parents with newborn babies. Harrington said they’re looking to give the books to Rigg’s Medical Center as well.

If you don’t have access to the book, Harrington has an easy way to remember safety tips.

“Think of the ‘ABC,’ child always sleeps ‘alone,’ always on their ‘back,’ and always in a ‘crib,’” explained Harrington.

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