me’s of­fice stresses in­fant safety

Austin American-Statesman - - LOCALBRIEFING -

The Travis County med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s of­fice said there are sev­eral wrong ways to put an in­fant to bed — and those mis­takes can be fa­tal.

The of­fice held a news con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day to ad­dress its grow­ing con­cern over ac­ci­den­tal in­fant deaths caused by as­phyx­i­a­tion. So far this year, the of­fice has seen seven in­fant deaths, all of them re­lated to un­safe sleep­ing en­vi­ron­ments, ac­cord­ing to the med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s of­fice. Travis County had 13 sleep-re­lated in­fant as­phyx­i­a­tion deaths in 2009 and 14 in 2008.

Dr. Satish Chun­dru, the county’s deputy chief med­i­cal ex­am­iner, said in­fants are most at risk in the first three months of life, but these deaths are pre­ventable.

Leanne Court­ney, a foren­sic nurse, said an easy way to re­mem­ber in­fant death pre­ven­tion meth­ods is through an ABCDE me­mory de­vice: Alone, on the Back, in a Crib, with the Dangers Elim­i­nated. In­fants should be placed on their backs, alone in their cribs, with­out any ob­jects sur­round­ing them, she said.

Adults shar­ing a bed with an in­fant is the biggest risk fac­tor in sleep-re­lated in­fant deaths, Court­ney said. Other dangers in­clude a mat­tress that is too big or too small for the crib, which can cre­ate crevices or in­den­ta­tions where in­fants can suf­fo­cate. Bumper pads are also a haz­ard and can suf­fo­cate a child, she said.

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