Three infants in Warren and Washington counties have died in the last few months as a result of sleeping in their parents’ beds, which doctors are reminding the community is an unsafe practice.
Adirondack Pediatrics posted a message to its Facebook page on Tuesday about the increase in sudden infant death syndrome due to bed sharing to draw attention to the issue.
“We are of course saddened by that fact and are putting all our heads together to see what we can do to increase awareness about the risk that comes with co-sleeping and see if we can prevent any further deaths,” said Dr. Mary Nevins, a partner at Adirondack Pediatrics and medical director of the Warren-Washington Child Advocacy Center, on Wednesday in a follow-up interview.
Infants should not be placed in the same bed as parents, but in a crib or bassinet in the same room. Nevins said numerous risks come with letting babies sleep in the same bed as adults.
Babies should be placed on their backs to sleep on a firm mattress with a fitted sheet and no other blankets, stuffed animals or toys in the crib, according to a video accompanying Adirondack Pediatrics’ Facebook post.
In some instances, the bedding itself can result in accidental suffocation, Nevins said.
“Blankets, pillows, mattresses that adults are sleeping on are not necessarily as firm as crib mattresses or bassinet mattresses, so that can be a factor,” she said.
Adults can roll over onto babies or an infant can get too close to the parent and suffocate, she said.
About 3,500 infants die every year from sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome, accidental suffocation and unknown causes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Adirondack Pediatrics staff are trying to determine if these recent infant deaths are a sign of a larger problem. Nevins said perhaps the message about safe infant sleeping is not resonating.
“It could be a bad coincidence,” she said. “Every infant death is a tragedy, and we’re going to do our best to try to prevent them.”
She wants to make sure parents understand some of these deaths are preventable.
“This is a situation you can control. You can control your baby’s safe sleep environment,” she said.