Spike in sudden infant deaths in B.C.

There have been 21 instances of sudden infant deaths  in B.C. in the first half of 2011. That’s five more than in all of 2010.

Sudden infant death occurs when an otherwise healthy infant dies in their sleep, with no cause of death identified on autopsy.

The B.C. Coroners Service (BCCS) is urging parents to educate themselves on safe sleep practices for their infants. Factors that increase risk include placing a baby on her stomach or side for sleep, sleeping on soft surfaces with soft objects in the area, co-sleeping, overheating, and exposure to cigarette smoke.

BCCS recommends placing the crib beside the caregiver’s bed for the first six months, using a firm mattress with a fitted sheet, breastfeeding, avoiding bed sharing, and ensuring the sleep environment meets Canadian safety standards to limit risk of sudden infant death.

Almost all of the 21 cases investigated this year have included one or more risk factors. Only five of the babies were sleeping in a bed designed for infants; 11 were in an adult bed.

For more information on sudden infant death, visit http://pssg.gov.bc.ca/coroners.

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