Are you putting your sleeping infant in danger?
It may be cute and convenient to sleep with or alongside your new child, but it can also be deadly.
New Jersey is no stranger to infant deaths caused by "co-sleeping." Most recently, an allegedly high mother rolled over and suffocated her baby girl in their Ventnor Heights home.
Accidental Suffocation and Strangulation in Bed is classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of three types of sudden unexpected infant deaths.
According to Dr. Brett Greenfield, medical director for AtlantiCare EMS, they responded to five of these deaths in 2015 alone.
"These cases are obviously very emotionally-charged for everybody involved," Greenfield said. "They take a big toll out of providers."
The alarming trend forced Greenfield to contact other pediatric specialists in the system to ensure parents and local physicians are well educated on the risks of a baby and adult sleeping on the same bed or couch.
Dr. Magna Dias, medical director of the CHOP Care Network at AtlantiCare, was one of those specialists.
Dias pointed to educational material that's shared with new parents, and AtlantiCare's participation in the nationwide Safe to Sleep program, but she noted more work could be done, and it's now underway.
"The safest place for our kids to sleep in is a firm sleep space with tight-fitting mattresses, no crib or soft toys...and a space that's segregated from the parent," Dias said.
The problem is generally seen with children under the age of 1.
In Monmouth and Ocean counties, according to Dr. Steven Kairys with K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital in Neptune, hospitals each year see about a dozen infant deaths or near-deaths blamed on co-sleeping.
"Any adult that's overly tired, or drinking alcohol or using drugs - they make bad decisions, they can roll over on their baby," Kairys said.
He said the convenience of breastfeeding or not having to travel to another room in the middle of the night is not worth a potential tragedy.