Four Washoe County infants died in a recent six-week span because of unsafe sleeping conditions, and officials are spreading the word that these deaths are preventable.
The four deaths occurred between Oct. 23 and Dec. 8, 2015, according to a statement from the Washoe County Department of Social Services. Infants under one year of age account for the greatest number of child deaths due to unsafe sleep situations, the agency reports.
“Unsafe sleeping environments are created due to excessive bedding, wedging, or adults or children sharing a bed with infants, which can result in rolling over or onto the baby and causing suffocation (overlay),” the agency said.
Cribs for Kids, a program of the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority, and Washoe County Social Services are working to get the word out to community-based organizations and other health care agencies about the importance of infant safe sleep practices.
Fatalities because of co-sleeping are “100 percent preventable” with adequate and appropriate safe sleep environments, says Amber Howell, director of the Washoe County Department of Social Services. “We are committed to providing education, resources, and support to increase safe sleep for infants within our community and Social Services is committed to this initiative.”
The following are guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to help infants safely sleep:
• Always place your baby on his or her back for every sleep time.
• Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
• The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).
• Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, and bumper pads.
• Wedges and positioners should not be used.
• Pregnant woman should receive regular prenatal care.
• Don’t smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
• Breastfeeding is recommended.
• Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
• Avoid covering the infant’s head or overheating.
• Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
• Infants should receive all recommended vaccinations.
• Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to facilitate development and minimize the occurrence of positional plagiocephaly (flat heads).