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June 4, 2007 permalink
A report by Ontario Coroner Jim Cairns suggests that sleeping arrangements for babies can be dangerous. He wants mothers and babies separated while sleeping. This kind of report, which could provide useful feedback on improving safety, will in practice become the justification for taking more babies from mothers. We hope to have more when the full report becomes available.
Unsafe sleeping arrangements cause rise in infant deaths: report
Last Updated: Monday, June 4, 2007 | 5:46 PM ET, CBC News
Infants are dying needlessly because they're in overcrowded cribs and sleeping in beds with others, an Ontario coroner's report released Monday says.
The 28-page report released by Ontario's Office of the Chief Coroner noted a rise in child deaths from unsafe sleeping environments, such as crowded cribs and babies sharing beds with siblings or parents.
Ontario's Deputy Chief Coroner Dr. Jim Cairns was resolute in his recommendations: "There ain't any ands, ifs or buts. The only safe sleeping environment for a baby is in a crib with a proper-fitting mattress.
"No bumper pads, no toys, no blankets, no anything," he added. A small baby blanket is okay, but must be tucked in, he said.
Twenty-one children died from unsafe sleeping environments in 2005, a rise from the 16 in 2004.
Cairns pointed to a case in which a five-week-old baby suffocated in a crib filled with adult-sized pillows, comforters and stuffed toys.
"It's a very dramatic example. And unfortunately, it's not rare," he said.
Parents also shouldn't share beds with young children because of the risk of rolling onto them or suffocation from the bedding, Cairns said.
Some groups, however, say the advantages of parents sleeping with their children shouldn't be discounted, if co-sleeping is done safely. La Leche League touts benefit of keeping baby close
"There is some research that shows that mothers who have babies either in the bed with them, or very close by in one of these sidecar arrangements, were more likely to be able to continue breastfeeding longer," said Teresa Pitman, of the Canadian breastfeeding support group La Leche League of Canada.
Health Canada, however, warns parents not to sleep with infants under the age of two.
Monday's report looked at 195 investigated deaths between 2004 and 2006 that involved accidents, negligence, suicide and homicide.
The report was the second of its kind by the Ontario coroner's office. Cairns hopes with long-term funding it could become an annual review.