Sleep-related deaths among infants on the rise in St. Joseph County

Published: Oct. 24, 2022 at 8:07 PM EDT
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ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - Sleep-related deaths among infants have left families devastated and local health officials concerned.

There have been eight sleep-related deaths in St. Joseph County so far this year.

St. Joseph County health officials held a media roundtable discussion Monday morning to call attention to the problem. They want parents of newborns to know the risks.

“Sharing a bed is a risk,” says Sally Dixon, registered nurse with the St. Joseph County Department of Health. “Babies under 4 months old, they breathe through their nose. We want people to understand that it is connected to them having room to breathe.”

Meanwhile, it’s Safe Sleep Awareness Month, so the St. Joseph County Department of Health wants new parents to know that the safest place for a newborn to sleep is on their back and alone in a crib. That means no blankets or pillows, which seems to be the biggest issue.

“Nationally, we know there’s polling that shows there’s an increasing tendency of people to share a bed with their baby,” Dixon says. “The thing is most people’s beds contain pillows and blankets, and there are softer beds that aren’t meant for babies. And it automatically increases the risk.”

The health department wants parents and caregivers to learn the basics of safe sleep, and make sure babies have room to breathe. #RoomToBreathe is a new campaign the health department is using to spread the word about reducing sleep-related deaths.

And WNDU is taking a closer look at this problem with a special report. Tricia Sloma talked to a mom who lost her 4-week-old infant after she took her baby to bed with her.

Hear the warnings from experts and get important reminders that show the safest way for a newborn to sleep by tuning in to “Deadly Routine: Baby Bedtime Dangers” this Thursday at 6 p.m.


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