County losing infants to unsafe sleeping
Caregivers urged to learn and practice safe sleep
Last updated 10/5/2023 at 9:23am
From 2020 to 2022, Snohomish County lost 19 infants (babies younger than 12 months) because of unsafe sleep. During that same two-year period, zero infants died due to car crashes, falls, burns, or drownings. Most sleep-related deaths are preventable.
"Losing a child is tragic. That's why it is so important for parents and caregivers to understand the risk of unsafe sleep," said Wendy Burchill, Snohomish County Child Death Review (CDR) Coordinator at the Snohomish County Health Department.
"After nearly 20 years of reviewing these infant deaths, I've seen the same risk factors in nearly all cases."
Those risk factors include babies not sleeping in a crib or bassinet, not sleeping on their backs, sleeping with an adult or multiple adults, and the presence of soft bedding (pillows, comforters, blankets, toys, soft mattress, or topper).
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises caregivers against using car seats, strollers, swings, infant carriers or infant slings for routine sleep. The AAP also recently added a warning against using weighted sleep sacks or blankets for sleep, due to the possible risk of suffocation.
"That first year of an infant's life can be a wonderful but also stressful time for families. Getting a baby to go to sleep and stay asleep isn't always easy, and parents or other caregivers are often running on little sleep themselves," said Dr. James Lewis, Snohomish County Health Officer.
"It takes a community to help support babies and families, and we can all play a role in safe sleep. We encourage everyone, from extended family members and friends to healthcare and child-care providers, to be familiar with the ABC's of safe sleep, share the information with their social circles, and offer their support in whatever way they are able for families with babies. Unsafe sleep is a leading contributor to infant deaths, but it doesn't have to be."
ABC'S OF SAFE SLEEP:
• Baby should sleep ALONE, not in the same bed as their caregiver.
• Baby should sleep on their BACK.
• Baby should sleep in a CRIB or bassinet that meets current safety standards.
"We are fortunate to have a team diligently working to stop sleep-related deaths in Snohomish County, but keeping children safer will require our entire community educating themselves and each other," said Shawneri Guzman, Safe Kids Snohomish County Coordinator and member of the Snohomish County Child Death Review (CDR).
The CDR is a team of injury prevention experts, youth workers, educators, healthcare professionals, and individual case consultants who review unexpected but preventable deaths of children ages 0 to 17.
Their goal is to make recommendations that help prevent future child deaths. This important work is convened by the Snohomish County Health Department in partnership with the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office.
October is Safe Sleep and SIDS Awareness month. Caregivers can learn more about safe infant sleep during a free Child Safety & CPR class on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m.
This one-hour class is offered over Zoom. Participants will be eligible for a free sleep sack. Register at http://www.southsnofire.org/classes.