Borchardt Consulting

Posts Tagged ‘Infant Mortality

Recently, there was an excellent  article in the New York Times entitled “A Campaign Against Co-Sleeping“.   This was a thoughtful article on the Milwaukee ads that have caused such a hew and cry amongst professionals and attachment parenting advocates.

Milwaukee's Safe Sleep Campaign

The author, KJ Dellantonia offers one main point to consider – “It isn’t whether bed-sharing can be safe under the right circumstances (no soft bedding, no alcohol or medications, non-smoking parents, no cutlery). It’s whether the ads will work, and even whether they might work too well.”  She goes on to say:

“An image of a baby sleeping with a butcher knife is  powerful enough to stick in the head of not just a pregnant woman or new mother considering her baby’s sleeping arrangements, but also in the head of the boyfriend she might leave that baby with, or the grandmother, or the  sitter.

It’s shocking enough to stay with a woman who isn’t making a clear-headed decision about sleeping with her baby, but is acting out of sleep-deprivation (or some other form of desperation) when she collapses onto a sofa or takes an infant into an unprepared bed. It’s enough to make almost anyone think twice. These ads are likely to achieve their stated goal: disrupting a cycle that Milwaukee believes leads to easily preventable infant deaths.”

The author calls for a calm discussion from the readers to weigh in about the intention of the ads – not whether bed-sharing worked for you and not if bed-sharing is an effective parenting tool.  She asked that we consider whether the ads will be effective with a particular segment of the population referred to as the “impulsive bed-sharer”.

I am truly impressed with the comments that followed her article.  Rather than the usual party lines for and against bed-sharing, there are a number of thoughtful constructive comments. People from both sides of the debate coming together to address an issue.

I’m all for it!  Constructive debate is good.  Instead of “I did it so it’s right” or “Everyone that does it is endangering their babies.”  Let’s have an open forum.  According to the 2011 Health Ranking Report, the U.S. ranks 43rd in infant mortality in the world.  Countries like Sweden, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Iceland are all half of the United States rate.”  Come on now.  We can do better!

The Back to Sleep campaign was successful in reducing sudden unexpected infant deaths by nearly 50% however, in the last 10 years, that decline has leveled off.  We need to try something new.  People, there are babies dying out there.  What do you suggest?


Do you ever read the comments at the end of an on-line newspaper article?  I do.  Apparently, lots of people comment on newspaper articles.  Sometimes, those comments just make me want to scream.  I recently read an article from NPR entitled “Co-Sleeping is Back in the News”.

The author, Barbara J. King was commenting upon the fact that a baby died while sleeping in bed with his breastfeeding mother.  The cause of death was listed as “a co-sleeping accident”. This article was a fairly unbiased commentary on co-sleeping.  While there is much about this article that I would choose to comment on, I’ll pass by that for now and go directly to the comments.

nothing is forever  wrote:

responsible parents never roll over their babies it is not optimism but truth if it is not true humans would have been extinct by now…..from time immemorial babies slept with their parents that gives the parents and the child a bond which we is very important. When a baby dies with mother rolling over the baby it is news because it is very uncommon………….

WHAT!  Where do you get your information?  After nearly 20 years of working with newly bereaved parents whose infants have died, it’s not all that uncommon.  Every single day my fax machine will turn on with at least one death report for an infant.  When a baby dies due to an overlay or accidental suffocation, some parents are too grief stricken and guilt-ridden to tell the world.  It is a horrible accident.

Leah  wrote:

I slept in the bed with all three of mine when they were babies and never rolled on any of them. The elephant in the room here is the *size* of the parent, I’d wager.

Wow!  That’s certainly judgmental.   Having your children survive might just make you incredibly lucky – not right. Why is it necessary to vilify parents who experienced a horrible tragedy?  In order to separate yourself (you’re right and they are wrong), it’s apparently necessary to make them fat, drug using, alcoholics.  Research has shown us that some of the reasons that you should NOT bedshare are using  drugs (even over-the counter drugs like cold medication), alcohol,  smoking and being overweight.   But the list is actually much, much longer.  No one wants to be
the bed room police. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine actually has protocols for breastfeeding mothers to co-sleep.  You can check them out here.

Brow Master wrote:

You don’t need a doctors opinion on this just listen to your own mother or grandmother.

I’m sure that your mother would be happy to hear that you believe she is always right; however, changes in childrearing occur because research
continues to give us more information, new products are discovered and even our children change. I’d wager that your mother did not put her children in a car seat.  There was probably lead paint on the crib that she used.  I played on construction sites, drank out of garden hoses and ate white bread with butter and sugar for lunch, but I certainly wouldn’t want my grandchildren to do that.

Jerry wrote:

From an evolutionary perspective, survival requires co-sleeping. For most of human history, sleeping away from your parents would most likely result in your becoming food for predators.

I wonder if the any of the studies factor in the size of the mother. There are some women walking around here even I wouldn’t feel safe sleeping next to.

Excellent point – Evolution. Defined as  1. any process of formation or growth; development. 2. A product of such development. 3. Biology.
Change in the gene pool of a population from generation to generation by such processes as mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift. 4. A process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development, as in social or economic structure or institutions.

In short, evolution means change.  I can’t speak for everyone, but in my neighborhood, I don’t have to worry about lions eating my children.  We have heat in our home so I don’t have to keep them close for heat.  I sleep in an America style comfortable bed, not on a dirt floor.  Sometimes, we outgrow our evolutionary history.  Some call that progress.  As to the other point about a woman’s weight – that’s just mean.  Most women who have recently given birth to a baby are carrying a bit of extra weight.

Candida  wrote:

I am sorry for this mother though it may be that the baby would have still passed or passed sooner had it been in a crib. The majority of the worlds culture co-sleep.

Back to that.  I don’t live in a third-world country (most of the world’s population).  Also, please don’t ever say something like
that to a bereaved parent.  We all die eventually but you have no way of knowing that this baby would die under other circumstances.

jpett88 wrote:

“3 million years of human evolution have prepared you for it.”

My favorite product of millions years of human evolution is the frontal cortex of the brain, which allows [most] humans to think rationally. It’s why we buckle our seatbelts in cars. Why we avoid drinking antifreeze. And probably why we shouldn’t sleep in the same bed as our babies, given the evidence. Bed-sharing is probably on par with opting out of vaccinations. Low risk but
high stakes. It’s a parenting choice, of course.

There are no right answers. Just safer answers.

AMEN! Excellent answer!  There are no right answers.  Just safer answers.  As a parent, you get to decide for your family what works best for you.  Consider, are you putting the comfort of the parents ahead of the safety of the child?   Babies are dying – unnecessarily.  As the parent, you get to chose what is right for your baby and for your family.  Make an informed choice and don’t for a minute think that it only happens to “bad” people.  It happens in every racial, ethnic, economic group.  It happens to loving parents who desperately wanted a baby.  Luckily, it doesn’t happen to most of us.  But, most people do know someone who has had a baby die.  That family deserves your sympathy, empathy and support.  Not your judgment.

When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.   Sophia Loren, from Women and Beauty

Dr. Rachel Moon, lead author of the new American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines and Pediatrician at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC discusses the latest information.  Click Safe Sleep Guidelines.

Follow these tips to create a safe sleep environment and help reduce the risk of SIDS for infants.

Reducing the Risk of SIDS poster


  • Babies should always sleep on their backs.
  • Place baby on his/her back to sleep at night time and naptime.
  • Babies shouldn’t sleep on their side. They may roll to face down position.


  • Every baby should sleep in his/her own crib.
  • Place baby on a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib.
  • Remove all fluffy and loose bedding from the sleep area. The only thing that should be in the crib is the baby.
  • Make sure baby’s head and face stay uncovered during sleep.
  • Use blanket sleepers instead of blankets during colder months.

Room sharing

  • Babies from birth to age 6 months should sleep in the same room with their parents.
  • Babies should not sleep on the same sleep surface with their parents.
  • Bring the baby into your bed for cuddling and feeding, but return the baby to his/her crib when you are ready to go back to sleep.

Other tips

  • Don’t let baby get too warm during sleep. A general rule is that babies need one more layer than you do.
  • Use pacifiers at naptime and bedtime during the first year, but not during the first month for breast-fed babies.
  • Breastfeeding is best!
  • Make sure your baby gets all the recommended vaccinations.
Click here to down load Guideslines

Holidays can be difficult times for those of us who are grieving the loss of our child.  Holiday cheer, family times, the hustle and bustle – it can all be overwhelming and downright depressing.  I’d like to share some ideas with you from other families who have experienced the death of a baby to help you survive this first holiday season.

  • Plan ahead.  This may be the year to change, skip or create new traditions.  Simple changes can make the holidays less overwhelming.  Ask everyone to bring a dish instead of cooking the whole family dinner yourself.  Stay home or go somewhere that you’ve never gone before.  If you have other children, involve them in the plan.  They are grieving too.
  •  Be flexible.  Know that you will have good days and bad. Understand that you might not be able to anticipate how  you will be feeling on any given day.  Allow yourself to change your mind.
  •  If you’re shopping for gifts, try using the internet or catalog shopping to avoid crowds.  Shop early or recruit a friend to help.
  •  Take time for yourself.  Write in a journal, exercise, meditate.  Grieving is hard work.  Allow yourself to be sad and remember that laughter is OK too.
  • Take some time off.  You do not have to attend every holiday party and school play.
  •  Be careful about alcohol – drinking increases depression.
  •  Seek out support from your church or temple, your family and friends.  Allow them to help renew your spirit.
  • Don’t allow the expectations of others to dictate your actions.  Trust yourself.
  •  Buy a gift for you baby and donate it to a children’s organization.
  •  Light a candle in honor or your baby.
  •  Buy a special ornament or holiday decoration to display in their honor.
  •  Talk to your family.  Let them know that for this year, you plan to do things differently or not at all.
  •  Keep in mind that some of us will be comforted by the start of a New Year and the chance to leave the old, sad year behind.  Others may feel panicked by the idea of leaving the old year because it feels like we are leaving our baby behind while we move forward.  Neither belief is right or wrong.

I hope that you will find at least one thing that helps you get through the holidays a little easier.  Give yourself the gift of remembering that your baby lived – not just died. Most of all, remember that change is a natural part of living.  If this holiday has flashes of sadness, don’t run from your feelings.



The FDA continues to talk about the dangers of sleep positioners and other products that make specific claims to “prevent SIDS”.   At first glance, it seems like an over-reaction to a small number of accidental suffocation deaths – 13.  However, the number is actually much higher.  Unfortunately, many babies die with unsafe products like bumpers and positioners in the crib with them, but those deaths are not reported to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because the product has been considered “normal” in the babies crib environment.

Despite the warnings, many parents continue to use these dangerous comforts.  Many parents equate “softness” with “comfort” and inadvertently put their babies at risk.

See Video


As a parent, do you feel like you just can’t get it right?  You just can’t keep up with all the changes in child rearing practices?  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) actually makes a practice of reviewing the safe sleep guidelines every 5  years or so so that their recommendations can keep up with the latest trends and products.

Since the AAP recommended all babies should be placed on their backs to sleep in 1992, deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome have declined dramatically. But sleep-related deaths from other causes, including suffocation, entrapment and asphyxia, have increased. In an updated policy statement, the AAP is expanding its guidelines on safe sleep for babies, with additional information for parents on creating a safe environment for their babies to sleep. Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP explains how parents can help their babies sleep safely in a video.

The current recommendations:

  • Always place your baby on his or her back for every sleep time.
  • Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
  • The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).
  • Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, and bumper pads.
  • Wedges and positioners should not be used.
  • Pregnant woman should receive regular prenatal care.
  • Don’t smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
  • Breastfeeding is recommended.
  • Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
  • Avoid covering the infant’s head or overheating.
  • Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Infants should receive all recommended vaccinations.
  • Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to facilitate development and minimize the occurrence of positional plagiocephaly (flat heads).
The best thing about these guidelines is that they continue to be easy for parents and caregivers to do.  These guidelines can actually decrease the amount of money that you might spend by reducing the number of products in the baby’s crib.  Remember, that you need to share these guidelines with anyone who cares for your baby.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch is putting through a series of articles about childcare in Missouri and the lax requirements that they have in that state. They and others are working to improve the childcare licensing. Author Nancy Cambia has done extensie research for her articles and has found that in sates with stricter childcare licensing standards and oversight, fewer babies die.

Licensed childcare providers are required to have continuing education hours in order to maintain their licenses. That means they stay current on the latest safety information. It also means that there is a limited number of children in each age category that one provider can care for. All that means that your children are safer in that providers care.

To read more from Nancy Cambria’s series of articles, click:

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