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Doctors warn parents of dangers of co-sleeping

Rochester, N.Y. – Mother of six, Leslie Bowers values the bond she has with her children.

She keeps them close, sometimes sharing her bed with her infant.

“I feel like I'm getting up in the middle of the night, if I'm putting them back in their bed and they stay asleep, that's fine but if I fall asleep with them nursing in bed then we're both getting rest,” Bowers said.

“We've been seeing quite a bit of infant deaths, mostly related to co-sleeping or unsafe conditions this year,” Strong Hospital physician Dr. Elizabeth Murray said.

Dr. Murray said there have been nine deaths related co-sleeping this year.

She said on average, the hospital typically sees about ten for the year.

Dr. Murray said she recognizes that strong bond between a parent and child but there’s a safer way to achieve it, by keeping a crib or bassinet in the room.

“You just need to always get yourself in a routine that if you are ever in a comfortable position, you need to have that baby down in a safe sleep environment,” Dr. Murray said.

Dr. Murray also points out that those cribs need to be safe too.

Make sure you have a firm mattress with a snug fit and keep the stuffed animals and bumpers out.

“There's a lot of information showing that a bumper can increase risk to either suffocation or strangulation,” Dr. Murray said.

Dr. Murray said cribs should be made out of a good, sturdy material, free of splintered and chipped wood.

And she said those slats; the narrow strips of woods on cribs should be about 2.5 inches wide – about the width of an iPhone 4.

As for Bowers, who does have a basinet in her room, said she most likely won't change her habits.

“Probably not, I have six kids, we've been ok, we've been safe so far,” Bowers said.

Bowers said it's a parental choice and it's up to parents to trust their instincts.

Dr. Murray said others may not be so lucky and it's about safety.

“Bonding is really important but it's just as easy to bond with that baby close to you but in their own sleeping environment,” Dr. Murray said.

In 2012, Monroe County enacted a safe sleeping campaign in hopes to reduce the infant mortality rate.

The county has been distributing materials about safe sleep practices with every new birth certificate that’s mailed home.

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Washington Times