A young Michigan couple is mourning the death of their baby, which was 100 percent preventable. Now the mother has taken to social media to warn others.
On May 16, Ryan came home to find his baby Everett James lying next to his sleeping mother in bed, breathless and unresponsive. The parents called 911 and began CPR, but it was too late. Their baby was lost on the day he had turned 5 months old. Grand Rapids police are investigating Everett’s death.
“It is horrifying for parents to wake up and discover their baby is no longer breathing,” said Dr. Bill Bush, Pediatrician in Chief at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.
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Bush told WOOD-TV that he’s had to speak with parents after they have lost a child to co-sleeping. “Every situation that happens – it’s so sad for us as a community and for a family… A preventable death,” Bush said. “We can really, hopefully decrease the number of times that I ever have to have these conversations with families.”
“Taking that risk and saying ‘maybe it won’t happen tonight’ — it’s just not worth that risk,” said Bush.
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Angela, the mother, turned to social media using the hashtag #EverettJamesAwareness. She wrote on Facebook: “This will be the hardest thing for me to write in my life, but if it saves even one life, it is worth it…” In her post, she related that a social worker, trying to comfort the couple, told them that 550 deaths happened due to co-sleeping last year in Michigan alone–and 15,000 happened nationwide.
“One recent study showed that up to 45 percent of parents reported they had bed shared at one point in the past two weeks,” said Dr. Jeffrey Colvin, a pediatrician at Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri. “Another recent study found that 11 percent of parents reported bed sharing as a usual practice.”
“SIDS and other sleep related deaths are the third leading cause of infant mortality in the U.S., and after the first month of life, they are the leading cause,” Colvin added.
NBC’s Today Show did a story on the topic last summer, noting: “After analyzing data on 8,207 infant deaths from 24 states that occurred between 2004 and 2012, researchers determined that nearly 74 percent of deaths in babies younger than 4 months occurred in a bed-sharing situation, according to the study published in Pediatrics. Among older infants – those aged 4 months to 364 days – the rate was slightly lower at nearly 59 percent.”
Many parents turn to bed sharing because it’s the only way they can get their babies to sleep, said Dr. Carlos Lerner, an associate professor of pediatrics at Mattel Children’s Hospital at the University of California, Los Angeles, and medical director of the UCLA Children’s Health Center.
“Babies may well be happier next to mom and may sleep better,” he explained. “Sometimes a baby is just too fussy. The mom gets the baby quiet and then tries to put him down in his own crib and he starts crying again.”
Dr. Colvin always warns parents of the risk to the baby and says a compromise may help solve the dilemma, noting there are “devices that sit next to the bed and allow babies to have their own safe space,” he explained. “They haven’t been studied yet, but they are still very promising.”
The grieving Michigan mother, Angela, concluded her Facebook post, exhorting: “As much as you love to snuggle and cuddle your little one, please resist the temptation to do so in bed. No matter how difficult it may seem at the time, put them to sleep in their own crib and avoid the greatest pain that one can experience in life — the pain that we are now experiencing. Your child’s life is too valuable.”
h/t: Opposing Views
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