WUFT News

State Agencies Seek to Prevent Infant Death During Sleep

By on November 18th, 2013

Since January 2013, the Florida Abuse Hotline has received 128 alleged reports of infants dying due to unsafe sleeping environments.

The Department of Children and Families’ Safe Sleep Campaign is looking to reduce that number by educating parents about how to safely put their children to sleep.

“These infants, they sleep best alone, on their backs and in cribs – the ABCs of safe sleep,” said DCF spokesman John Harrell.

Casey Family Programs, a nonprofit organization specializing in child welfare policy, conducted a review of child fatalities from abuse and neglect in Florida during 2013. In a sample of 40 cases, asphyxiation due to unsafe sleeping conditions was the most common cause of death, more so than drowning and physical abuse.

Harrell said that parents sleeping in an adult-sized bed with infants is a frequent cause of death in these cases.

“Fact of the matter is, they could roll over at night on top of their infants and suffocate them,” he said. “They can’t just assume that they’re going to be able to wake up.”

Suffocation by blankets, pillows, bumpers or toys placed in the crib with the infant is also common. Cribs should be clear of any objects that can trap the child if they shift at night. Babies should have their own cribs — other babies’ presence can increase the risk.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office, along with other emergency and law enforcement stations across the state, has partnered with community organizations such as Healthy Start Coalitions for the campaign. The lobbies of four district offices have been opened to donations of new Pack ‘n Plays, or portable cribs, from the public.

“We’re hoping these new Pack ‘n Plays will be able to be distributed to families in need, and from that, folks will be able to put a kid in a safe sleeping environment,” Marion County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Judge Cochran.

Families in need of a crib should contact their local Healthy Start organization, which will distribute the cribs. Anyone looking to donate a new Pack ‘n Play can donate them in various locations throughout the state.

For Healthy Start, the participation of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and other first responders in the Safe Sleep Campaign is a new outlet for their ongoing initiative to educate and provide resources for parents about safe sleep.

“We continue to step up our efforts to teach and provide avenues for parents to access the Pack ‘n Plays, so that affordability is never a factor in being able to provide the best environment,” said Lynne Hough, Healthy Start program manager at the Florida Department of Health in Marion County.

She stressed that although crib distribution helps eliminate poverty as a cause of unsafe sleeping conditions, preventable sleep accidents happen to families of every socioeconomic status.

“It’s one of those things that crosses all barriers, and education is definitely the key,” she said. “You could make a million dollars and still be first-time parents and not know a thing about what the best practice would be to help prevent injury to your child.”

Hough said there were five infant deaths in 2012 in Marion County related to unsafe sleeping environments. So far in 2013, there have been three.

She said the partnership of numerous organizations has made the information more accessible and understandable.

“We’ve all been coming at it in different directions,” Hough said. “We have a consistent message now.”

She encourages parents who are unsure if they qualify for assistance from Healthy Start to contact their local chapter, especially if they have questions about safe sleep or access to education and other resources.

The Safe Sleep Campaign focuses on public outreach and provides educational materials for Florida first responders to distribute.

One mother, Sherkendra Burch from Manatee County, shared her story in a video linked on the DCF’s website for the Safe Sleep Campaign.

Six years ago, her 6-week-old daughter suffocated while co-sleeping with Burch. By the time Burch woke up to check on her, it was already too late.

“My way of helping parents now – I try my best to help them become aware of unsafe sleeping,” she says in the video. “Anything can happen in a second, two minutes, an hour.”


This entry was posted in Florida and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Florida

Gov. Scott Announced Funding For Final Phase Of Restoration Projects

Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced funding for the third and largest phase of early restoration projects to combat the Deepwater Horizon (BP) Oil Spill of 2010 on Oct. 7. Although $100 million was allocated to Florida by the Deepwater Horizon [...]


Florida bay scallops typically reach a shell height of three inches and have a life expectancy of one year. They have tiny blue eyes that help detect movement, and they can swim backward by opening and closing the two shells.

Scallop Researchers to Start Underwater Surveying

Now that the harvesting season is over, researchers are starting underwater studies to determine the state of scallop populations at 10 sites along the west coast of Florida.


At the initial hiring event in Orlando, Fla., 55 veterans and military personnel were in attendance. About 150 veterans have applied to work with the Department of Corrections since the initiative was launched on Jun. 26.

DOC Partners with National Guard, Hires Military Personnel

The Florida Department of Corrections partnered with the Florida National Guard to hire veterans and military personnel who are unemployed. These specialty hiring events last all day and are open to all branches in the Florida National Guard and Reserves.


photo

‘Pot Predicament’ Forum Fuels Amendment 2 Debate

A panel of four met to discuss Amendment 2 and medical marijuana at a Tuesday night forum on the University of Florida Campus. Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell and former Florida House Speaker John Mills dominated the forum as they debated each other about legislation language and the need for medical marijuana.


The Ocala City Council repealed the so-called "saggy pants" ordinance at Ocala City Hall on Tuesday evening. The ordinance banned saggy pants on city property.

Ocala City Council Repeals ‘Saggy Pants’ Ordinance

The Ocala City Council voted to repeal an ordinance banning saggy pants on city property. The controversial ordinance met with criticism from the NAACP.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments