Infant Deaths

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 10:44am

A look into infant deaths in one county shows that sharing the bed with a baby is a deadly practice.

It's not uncommon for babies to share the bed with their parents, but that practice can be deadly.

Since 2005 in Santa Clara County in California, 41 babies have died from unsafe sleeping practices.

About half of those deaths were linked to bed sharing and only a fraction of those cases involved parents who'd been using alcohol or drugs.

Dr. Michelle Jordan, Assistant Medical Examiner-Coroner, uses dolls to help parents re-enact the circumstances that led up to their child's death including where the baby was placed and the location of surrounding pillows and bedding.

"I've had cases where infants have accidentally suffocated in soft bedding, whether that's on an adult size bed or whether its in a crib because the crib was just loaded with soft blankets and the baby becomes entrapped face downs," said Jordan.

Dr. Jordan says other babies died after while sleeping on a couch or nursing pillow and the problem is often that the babies aren't strong enough to lift their tiny heads if they're pressed against bedding and can't breathe.

The 41 babies that died in Santa Clara County were otherwise healthy and the coroner's office considered them all preventable deaths.

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