WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Concerns are rising over an alarming number of infant deaths in Luzerne County.
Deaths investigators say are caused by adults usually parents rolling onto the infant while sleeping. The County’s District Attorney is issuing a plea to parents.
Luzerne County District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce says he had to go public to in his words possibly help save the lives of infants and toddlers not just in Luzerne County but across the region.
“In the last two weeks, we had three different infant baby deaths resulting from co-sleeping, putting infant in bed with parents,” stated Sanguedolce.
Sangeudolce says the infant death numbers for the year are concerning.
“In the last six months, we’ve seen six of these deaths. Through the year we’ve seen ten which are numbers we have never seen before,” said Sanguedolce.
Sangedolce says they usually see 4 or 5 such infant deaths each year so he tells the I-team he wanted to reach out to the public to get the message out.
“Historically we’ve seen some kind of opioid addictions go to bed intoxicated. We would see that but now we’re not seeing that anymore. New parents typically exhausted not used to sleeping with a baby can very easily roll over and it’s very easy to asphyxiate an infant,” explained Sanguedolce.
Sanquedolce says parents could face criminal charges in connection with the co-sleeping deaths but he says that is not his goal preventing those deaths is his motivation.
“There can’t be anything worse especially around the Christmas season when things are supposed to be joyous you bring a new baby home and you’re responsible for its death,” said Sanguedolce.
We spoke with Doctor Kira weaver an emergency room physician at Lehigh Valley Hazleton.
“It is not safe to sleep with a baby in the bed or even on a chair that can lead to problems. You can roll on the baby and can get in a position in such a way the baby can’t breathe it can technically suffocate,” stated Weaver.
Dr. Weaver recommends “if you’re really tired you want to have a bassinette a crib or something nearby that you can keep baby close or in that room. If you’re worried about keeping an eye on that baby but you want to keep that baby safe.”
Sangedolce says this is not about project parents or adult caregivers it is about preventing infant deaths.
Roughly 80 healthy Pennsylvania babies die each year from sleep-related deaths. That’s one baby every four days. The Safe Sleep Awareness For Every Well Newborn Program is an effort to combat the high rate of sleep-related infant deaths throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
It involves the engagement of hospitals and community partners to advance the best practices for safe sleep for infants in the hospital, home, and community care settings. Head to their website to learn more on how to help spread awareness.
About 3,400 babies in the U.S. die suddenly and unexpectedly every year while sleeping. To learn more about the statistic click here for more.
Cribs for Kids is to prevent infant sleep-related deaths by educating parents by providing portable cribs to families who, otherwise, cannot afford a safe place for their babies to sleep. To check out their work head over to the website.