Co-sleeping deaths on the rise in Texas - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Co-sleeping deaths on the rise in Texas

TYLER (KYTX) - Co-sleeping deaths are on the rise in Texas, and now The Department of Family and Protective Services is launching an ad campaign to make parents aware of the dangers.

Over the last 10 months, 164 babies have died in co-sleeping accidents in Texas alone -- and that number is expected to rise.

Just Wednesday, a 2 1/2 month old Dallas infant died in a co-sleeping accident.

A new study suggests bed-sharing is a major risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome and other sleep-related deaths, like suffocation and overheating.

But DFPS says these tragedies are totally preventable, if parents just follow a few simple guidelines.

"I've just heard so many horror stories about parents waking up and their babies just aren't with them anymore, and it's scary. It's very scary," mother of two Melodee Gipson said.

She says her newborn daughter, Finley Grace, never sleeps in bed with her because she knows the risks.

"I worry a lot about either my husband rolling over on her or her snuggling up too close or getting too hot," she said.

A new study in "The Journal Pediatrics" found that out of about 8,200 deaths from sudden infant death syndrome and other sleep related causes, 70 percent were sharing a bed.

"Young infants who developmentally cannot move their head or move away were more likely to be unable to protect themselves," Dr. Jeffrey Colvin, who authored the study, said.

Over the next two months, The Department of Family and Protective Services is spending $100,000 on an online campaign aimed at educating parents about the dangers of co-sleeping.

To lower the risk of SIDS, experts say infants should always sleep alone and on their backs. 

But if you don't like the idea of your baby sleeping in another room, there are other options.

"Get a bassinet that is close to the bed so you can touch and feel the baby and have the closeness that is instinctive that we need to feel as parents, but not in harms way," Dr. Elissa Rubin with Happy and Healthy Pediatrics said.

And that's exactly what Gipson says she does with her newborn.

"I couldn't imagine waking up and finding that, not to mention having to live with yourself and know that it really was your fault," she said.

Even if your child sleeps in a crib or bassinet, there are still some safety measures you should follow to reduce the risk of sudden death.

Never put stuffed animals, blankets or pillows in your baby's crib; keep them away from second-hand smoke; and keep their sleeping space cool -- experts recommend around 70 degrees.

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