Is there a rash of accidental baby suffocations from co-sleeping?

Wausau infant dies in bed with mother; grandmother falls asleep, rolls over and suffocates Milwaukee newborn. You've heard the recent headlines.

State Health Officer with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Dr. Seth Foldy says accidental suffocation is "still a major problem today" and he says we could do better.

"There has been some promotion of co-sleeping in the interest of encouraging breast feeding. What's now becoming clear is that the risks really outweigh the benefits."

Foldy says, though, it's unknown just how many infant deaths are due to their adult guardian smothering them.

"It's difficult to distinguish Sudden Infant Death Syndrome from suffocation. And sometimes it is just an investigator finding that co-sleeping happened – that causes the death to be labeled one way or the other."

Foldy stresses, infants should sleep in the parents' room for bonding purposes, but not in the same bed. He says the baby should be alone, on a firm surface with nothing more than a sheet, and on its back. Down comforters and stuffed animals increase the risk of suffocation.

Education and awareness are important, because such deaths could have been prevented.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report (1:15 MP3)

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