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Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - December 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk Count
y Publishing Company

CPS report cites dangers to infants while co-sleeping with parents
Polk County Enterprise - December 2008
female infant died in Leggett in June from accidental asphyxiation while sleeping with her parent, according to a report released by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services this week. Seven other infants died in the 15-county area of East Texas that includes Polk County. The state agency is publicizing the results of its report in an effort to raise public awareness and prevent future occurrences. “CPS has been concerned for some time about deaths while cosleeping,” said Allison Castle, public information offi cer for Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in Region 5. “But it’s been diffi cult to isolate co-sleeping from other factors like Sudden infant Death Syndrome.” “Co-sleeping is not a cause of death. It is merely the circumstances at the time of the sleeping: Was the child sleeping alone or with someone else?” Castle said. Co-sleeping deaths are also referred to as “rollovers” because they often occur because an adult or older child simply rolled over on the infant and they are smothered between that person and the bedding. Often a soundly sleeping adult may not be able to determine that they have pushed a small infant into a pillow or other bedding that obstructed their airway. The new analysis by CPS does not prove these children died because they were sleeping with another person. It only demonstrates the number of children who died while sleeping with an adult or older child. “Co-sleeping is not abuse or neglect in of itself,” Castle adds. “When CPS caseworkers investigate a child death they determine if abuse or neglect played a role.” “When co -sleeping is involved, a caseworker may fi nd there was abuse or neglect if , for example, a parent was obviously impaired by alcohol or drug abuse (illegal drugs or prescription drugs),” Castle said. “There could also be a fi nding of neglect if the family had a previous co-sleeping death and had been warned about unsafe sleeping practices and ignored them,” Castle said. “There could also be a fi nding if there was not enough room on the sleeping surface and any reasonable person would have known it was an unsafe sleep environment.” The holiday season is an important time for everyone to be more aware of the potential danger to infants when many families alter the sleeping arrangements to make room for visiting family members. The eight deaths in Region 5 occurred between Sept. 1, 2007 and Oct. 31, 2008. One of these deaths was in Polk County were a 10-day-old female child had slept with her mother and the mother’s boyfriend. That child died as a result of co-sleeping. Ethnicity and gender seem to play no role in the incidents reported. Of the deaths reported in Texas, 76 were Anglo (38 percent); 69 were African American (35 percent) and 38 were Hispanic (19 percent). Among the Texas deaths, 53 percent were male, 46 percent female, and 1 percent not recorded The youngest was 10 days old and the oldest was 22 months. So far in calendar year 2008: • 78 children died by drowning • 8 children died from being left in a hot car. “All of theses deaths are accidental,” Castle said. “It is a common practice to take the baby to bed with you, but they need their own safe sleep environment.” The safest place for a child under the age of 2 is in the crib or bassinet, Castle said. The bassinet can be right next to bed. That will allow the parents to get as much rest as they can between late night feeding. Castle advises anyone caring for an infant not to use alcohol or drugs. Even a small amount of alcohol may cause the caregiver to sleep deeply enough that they’re not aware the baby needs immediate attention. Newborns have also died when put to sleep on a couch, sofa, waterbed or recliner, Castle said. The department also advises against letting an infant to sleep with other children. “A 4- or 5-year-old can roll over on infant and cause her to suffocate,” Castle said. “Can you imagine how devastating that is for the older child?” “People just don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, but we need to use precautions to avoid this tragedy.”


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