Babies only sleep safely in crib with just a baby blanket

A report released by Ontario's Office of the Chief Coroner says babies are dying needlessly because they're in overcrowded cribs and sleeping in beds with others.

The 28-page document by Dr. Jim Cairns says there has been a noticeable rise in child deaths from unsafe sleeping environments, such as crowded cribs and babies sharing beds with siblings or parents.

It seems twenty-one children died from unsafe sleeping environments in 2005, a rise from the 16 in 2004 and of the 30 infant deaths in 2006 and the first months of 2007, twenty were caused by "co-sleeping" with adults or in other unsafe sleeping environments.

In the report Dr. Cairns does not pull any punches and says there are no 'ands, ifs or buts', the only safe sleeping environment for a baby is in a crib with a proper-fitting mattress.

Dr. Cairns says there should be no bumper pads, no toys, no blankets, no anything in the crib other than a small baby blanket which must be tucked in and the baby should be placed face up.

To illustrate his point he gives the dramatic example of a five-week-old baby which suffocated in a crib filled with adult-sized pillows, comforters and stuffed toys, and he says such situations are not rare.

The doctor says parents should not share beds with young children because of the risk of rolling onto them or suffocation from the bedding.

Some groups, however, say the advantages of parents sleeping with their children shouldn't be discounted, if co-sleeping is done safely.

The Canadian breastfeeding support group La Leche League of Canada says some research shows that mothers who have babies either in the bed with them, or very close by were more likely to be able to continue breastfeeding longer.

But Health Canada warns parents not to sleep with infants under the age of two and the coroner also adds that the weight of the argument is in the number of dead infants.

A recent review of 10 autopsy reports from the Hospital for Sick Children showed that eight were the result of unsafe sleeping accommodations.

Warnings have been issued in Canada, the U.S. and Britain about the risks of sleeping accommodations for babies, and from the Canadian Paediatric Society and the American Medical Association.

Posted in: Child Health News

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