Health officials warn of co-sleeping after woman charged in baby’s death

CINCINNATI (WXIX) – Health officials are warning parents about the dangers of sleeping in bed with a baby

The warning comes after a Cincinnati woman allegedly caused the death of her 6-week-old.

Brooke Hunter lost her second baby to co-sleeping in as many years earlier this summer, according to the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office.

She is currently wanted on manslaughter charges after having been warned of the dangers of co-sleeping the first time it happened.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises new mothers never to sleep with their baby.

One Hamilton County physician acknowledges it can be difficult not to, especially if they are fussy or the mother is tired after a long day. However, data show sleep-related deaths are the second-leading cause of infant mortality in the county.

“The science is telling us that it’s not safe to sleep with your baby,” said Elizabeth Kelly, MD, president of the Hamilton County Board of Public Health.

Kelly explains sleep-related deaths in Hamilton County infants range between two and four times higher than the national average.

“It’s safest for the baby to sleep alone, always alone on their back, and we want them to sleep in their own space, like a crib or a pack-n’-play,” Kelly said.

She adds the surface the baby sleeps on is important, as surfaces made for adults (couches, beds or water beds) are not safe forinfants.

“Those surfaces are just too soft for them, and we think sometimes those surfaces might come up around the baby and suffocate them,” Kelly explained.

She says after-the-fact, officials often hear those involved in co-sleeping deaths say they thought they would have woken up or felt the baby

“But that’s unfortunately not the case,” she said. “Many times, the parent rolls on the baby, and the baby does not move, or they do not feel the baby underneath them, and unfortunately the baby suffocates.”

Kelly says it’s easy to think a baby will be comforted by going to bed with its mother. Instead, she suggests soothing the baby by swaddling it, rubbing its stomach or singing or humming.

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