Baby in Over-the-Rhine dies, bed-sharing could be to blame

What you need to know about 'co-sleeping'

CINCINNATI -- A 6-week-old child died Tuesday morning in Over-the-Rhine and police say the initial investigation points to co-sleeping as the cause of death.

The incident happened at about 8 a.m. in the 1600 block of Moore Street. No criminal charges have been filed and investigators are ruling it an accident until the official cause of death is released from the Hamilton County Coroner's office.

Cradle Cincinnati , a child care agency, released a statement Tuesday from their Co-Chairs, County Commissioners Todd Portune and City Councilmember Wendell Young, on the baby's death.

"Our deepest condolences go out to the family. The thoughts and prayers of the entire community are with you today," the Co-Chairs said. "Unfortunately, this same tragic story happens all too often in Hamilton County. Last year alone, 16 babies died due to unsafe sleeping conditions."

Co-sleeping, which occurs when a caregiver sharing a bed with an infant, is on the rise in America despite several campaigns warning of potential hazards, according to JAMA Pediatrics.

A sergeant with Cincinnati police said Tuesday they average 20 baby co-sleeping deaths a year despite awareness campaigns.

A recent study found between 1993 and 2010 the number of American caregivers who share their bed with infants have increased from 6 percent to 13.5 percent.

While research shows bed-sharing can be beneficial in some ways, like for breastfeeding, parent sleep and bonding , the possible hazards of sleeping in the same bed as an infant are immense.

Studies have shown a link between caregivers sharing their bed and the risk of accidental suffocation of an infant.

Research also shows bed-sharing leads to a three times higher chance an infant will die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

JAMA Pediatrics lists safety precautions to parents who decide to bed-share:

  • Do a safety check of the sleep environment: The sleep environment includes the type and size of bedding and all the pillows and blankets on the bed. Remove all excess pillows, heavy blankets, quilts, and comforters to reduce the risk that your baby will be trapped under these coverings. Ensure that the bed is large enough for the caregiver(s) and infant without the infant rolling off or a caregiver rolling onto the infant. Do not take toys or stuffed animals into the bed, as these may increase the risk of suffocation. Bed sharing on a couch has a much higher risk because the infant can become trapped in the cushions, roll off the couch, or become trapped between the couch and caregiver.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol: Parents who bed share should ensure that the bedroom is smoke free and avoid alcohol use before bedtime, which may impact a caregiver’s sleep and ability to recognize that the infant is in danger.
  • Room temperature: Bedrooms that are hot and stuffy lead to more risks that the infant will become overheated.
  • Proximal sleep environment: Placing the baby’s crib alongside the parent bed keeps the baby very close but minimizes safety risks.

CLICK HERE for more information on safe sleeping for infants.

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