Infant deaths in focus

September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month, and Mesa County officials want parents and caregivers to be aware of the possibility of infants dying needlessly in their sleeping environment.

From 2004 to 2009, 10 infants younger than 1 year in Mesa County died because of unsafe sleeping practices. Of those deaths, the majority occurred when adults who were sleeping with infants inadvertently rolled onto the children, killing them, according to Mesa County Coroner Dean Havlik.

“Sometimes some parents think it’s OK to sleep with their children, but it’s not,” Havlik said. “One death is too many.”

According to the coroner’s office, other unsafe sleeping situations in which local children have died include:

Infants sleeping on their bellies.

Infants sleeping in unsafe bassinets or cribs.

Infants sleeping in separate rooms from their parents.

Havlik said he doesn’t know how Mesa County compares with other counties for the number of preventable infant deaths because other counties don’t keep those statistics.

In Mesa County, representatives from law enforcement, the coroner’s office, public health and human services agencies and School District 51 serve with pediatricians and others on the Child Fatality Review Team. It reviews unexplained and unexpected deaths of children in Mesa County.

September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month nationwide and serves to remind adults to recognize how to best care for children to prevent needless deaths.

To create a safe sleeping environment for children, authorities recommend following guidelines by the National Institute of Child Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some of those guidelines include:

Always placing babies on their backs to sleep for naps and for the night.

Putting babies on a firm surface to sleep.

Keeping soft objects, toys and loose bedding away from a child’s sleeping area.

Keeping babies from overheating while sleeping.

Keeping babies in a separate crib close to your bed.


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