As parents, you do everything you can to protect your children when they’re awake, but how about when they are sleeping? It’s a focus of the Regional Infant and Child Mortality Review Committee, which looks at the cause of death in children under the age of 18 in 10 counties in eastern South Dakota. It not only investigates deaths after a child is born, but also after the child has left the hospital.
On Wednesday Dr. Brad Randall, the committee’s chair, highlighted the 30 sudden unexpected infant deaths, or “SUIDS,” that happened between 2012 and 2017. Nearly all, 29 of them, happened in a sleep environment that wasn’t safe, according to Randall’s presentation on Wednesday. Eight of them happened in “cluttered” or “broken” portable cribs, possibly with the baby face down. Three were in infant seats or rocking devices. 13 were on adult beds. Four were on sofas, one was on a crib that wasn’t safe, and 11 happened when the child was sharing a bed with their parents or sibling.
Health experts say they should be on their back, on a flat surface that is firm, and with nothing else in the sleeping area. Parents shouldn’t be sleeping with the baby, but should be close by.
“The number one issue continues to be safe sleep for infants,” Dr. Randall said. “The safe sleep environment, the child on its back in an empty, flat, well-fitted crib, is still the number one issue that we have out there.”
The committee reviewed other child deaths that happened in 2017; the year saw 29 deaths of people under the age of 18. Health officials say some of the biggest factors continue to be reckless driving that leads to car crashes and suicide among teens.