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May 8th, 2008

Campaign To Stop Co-Sleeping Deaths

Gladys Carrión, Esq.

New York State Office of Children & Family Services Commissioner Gladys Carrión, NYC Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, city Administration for Children Services (ACS) Commissioner John Mattingly, and more than three dozen local social services commissioners across the state today launched a joint campaign to stop a preventable crisis: infants dying when sharing a bed with an adult.

There have been 89 infant or small child death reports to the New York Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment since 2006, where the child was co-sleeping with a parent, sibling, or caregiver, according to the NYS Office of Children and Family Services.

Co-sleeping is risky. If an adult or child rolls over on a baby, the baby can be hurt or even suffocated. Sleeping with a child can be dangerous, especially if you drink, use drugs, are overweight, or sleep on a couch.  To keep your baby close, put his crib or bassinet near your bed.

The Office of Children and Families estimates that co-sleeping is involved in approximately 20 percent of the child fatalities reported to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.

Three-quarters of the children in co-sleeping incidents were newborn to three months old. Adult co-sleepers involved in these incidents were most likely to be the child’s mothers, age 18 to 24 years old. Nearly 40 percent of these co-sleeping incidents occurred on the weekend.

To prevent further fatalities, the State, local counties, and the City of New York are joining together to launch a “BABIES SLEEP SAFEST ALONE” statewide public education campaign, adapted from materials originally developed for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR BABY” child safety campaign.

“Just over a dozen small children died so far this year in beds they were sharing with their caregivers,” said Commissioner Carrión at a press conference at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Hospital maternity ward, on Thursday, May 8. “These may have been preventable deaths.”

Deputy Mayor Gibbs said: “These deaths cross cultural, racial, ethnic, and economic demographics. By leveraging our joint resources, we will educate caregivers to save children’s lives.”

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