Baltimore sees uptick in sleep-related deaths of infants

Baltimore City health officials have announced a spike in deaths among newborns related to unsafe sleeping arrangements and urged parents to follow professional medical advice about how to put their infants to bed safely.

There were six suspected cases of sleep-related death in the first three months of the year, compared with seven suspected cases in all of 2016, based on preliminary data from the state medical examiner’s office. The sleep-related deaths had been on the decline for years and were the result of a campaign called B’more for Healthy Babies to educate parents about putting their babies to sleep alone and on their backs in a crib.

Sleep-related deaths had dropped from a record high of 27 in 2009, according to Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore’s health commissioner, who held a press conference Wednesday to call attention to the recent rise in deaths. Wen said the earlier drop in sleep-related deaths had contributed to an overall drop in infant mortality, which also includes deaths related to complications from preterm birth and low birth weight.

Wen said more needs to be done to make sure parents know not to put infants in bed with them and not to put stuffed animals or blankets in the crib because of the risk of smothering the babies.

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