Preventing Accidental Infant Deaths Due to Unsafe Sleeping Practices (07/07/2014)


 From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale Burstein

Date July 7, 2014                            

CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925

Preventing Accidental Infant Deaths

Due to Unsafe Sleeping Practices

ERIE COUNTY, NY— The recent deaths of two infants who died as a result of being placed in a dangerous sleeping position reiterates the vital necessity of educating parents and caregivers of the importance of keeping infants in safe sleeping positions. The babies in question died as a result on an inability to keep their airways open for proper breathing.

“Parents and caregivers need to be aware that infants do not have the neck strength to move their heads or adjust their position when they cannot breath” states Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health (“ECDOH”).  “Babies should always be placed to sleep on their backs not on their side or tummy. These positions are not safe. Do not use pillows or wedges including horseshoe-shaped nursing pillows commonly used during breastfeeding to prop your baby up or keep him/her on its back.  In addition, babies should not be left sleeping unmonitored when they are not in their cribs. Car seats, swings and rockers may not be the correct size for an infant in which to safely sleep.”

Other important tips include:

• Use a crib that meets current safety standards. The mattress should be firm and fit snuggly in the crib. Cover the mattress with only a tight-fitting crib sheet. Portable cribs and play yard style cribs are also good choices.

• Do not put anything soft, loose or fluffy in your baby’s sleep space. This includes pillows, blankets, comforters, bumper pads, stuffed animals or toys and other soft items (i.e., the “naked crib”).

• Use a wearable blanket or other type sleeper instead of blankets to keep your baby warm and safe.

• Never place your baby to sleep on top of any soft surface. This includes adult beds, sofas, chairs, waterbeds, pillows, cushions, comforters and sheepskins.

Burstein concluded: “These are heartbreaking accidents. We hope by bringing these tragedies to the attention of Erie County parents and caregivers that they will heed our recommendations and keep their infants safe.”

For more information:

Erie County Department of Social Services –

United States Consumer Product Safety Commission --

American Academy of Pediatrics –

First Candle “Safe Sleep Saves Lives” --

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