After 4 baby deaths, Dayton Children’s warns about unsafe sleeping conditions

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Dayton Children’s Hospital said four area babies have died since February after they were found in unsafe sleep environments.

The hospital is warning parents about the dangers of unsafe sleeping conditions that can lead to a baby’s death.

About 4,000 infants die annually in the U.S. from sleep-related reasons, from known causes such as accidental strangulation or suffocation in bed and from unknown causes such as sudden infant death syndrome.

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Pediatricians recommend babies sleep alone, on their back and in a crib.

The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to highly encourage breastfeeding and their recommendations states that infants should sleep in the parents’ room, close to the parents’ bed, but on a separate surface designed for infants, ideally for the first year of life, but at least for the first 6 months.

Another common misconception is that the baby will choke when sleeping on the back, Dayton Children’s stated.

When a baby vomits or spits up, it can go down the wrong tube causing them to stop breathing or choke. When a baby is sleeping on their back, the trachea lies on top of the esophagus. Anything spit up must work against gravity to be aspirated into the trachea.

However, when a baby sleeps on their stomach, anything spit up will pool at the opening of the trachea, making it easier to be aspirated into the baby’s lungs.

Even babies with reflux or who regularly spit up should sleep on their backs in a crib next to the caregiver’s bed, unless recommended by a pediatrician.

Parents should avoid the use of commercial devices that are inconsistent with safe sleep recommendation – these could include positioning wedges, Boppy pillows and swings.

For people who want to learn more about sleep, the Neighborhood Navigators with Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County are holding a virtual event called Mommy Monday, held 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. May 24. People can register at https://tinyurl.com/mommymonday.

Community health workers will share how families can get connected with a free pack n’ play as well as other helpful resources.

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