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El Paso County Coroner’s report shows increase in infant deaths

Posted at 8:05 PM, Jun 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-27 21:48:54-04

EL PASO COUNTY – The 2018 Annual Report from the El Paso County Coroner’s Office showed an increase in the number of infants who died in Southern Colorado when compared to 2017.

The Coroner, Dr. Leon Kelly, reported that eight babies died while in unsafe sleep spaces in 2018, which is two more than 2017. Four of the deaths from 2018 were due to the infant sharing a bed with adults. The El Paso County Coroner’s Office performed autopsies in 20 counties total, including our own.

Coroner Kelly said these deaths could have been prevented and believes safety tips about putting your baby to sleep can save those lives. He said babies should always be placed on their backs on a firm surface, such as a crib, and they need their own space. “The most common unsafe sleep environments are bed sharing with adults, as well as kids being laid down on couches and recliners, or places where they’re placed sort of face down on some sort of a pillow,” said Coroner Kelly.

Local mother Laura Serbanescu said she was always aware of how she was putting her baby to bed. “I actually had a personal friend, who had two of his boys pass away through this. So I think it’s probably the worst thing that could happen to a parent,” said Serbanescu.

R.N. Amy Borchardt is a postpartum nurse at UCHealth Memorial Hospital. She said infants can overheat easily while sleeping, and sometimes parents over-bundle their child. She also warned against putting any objects in a crib with an infant. Once again, she reinforced the danger of sharing a bed with a baby. “Co-sleeping tends to not be a safe sleep practice because you could accidentally roll over on your baby,” said Borchardt.

For more information on how to safely put an infant to bed, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment.