Father warns of dangerous sleeping position after death of his child
A young, exhausted father nods off with his slumbering newborn cuddled up on his chest. It's an image that a lot of parents are familiar with and a heartwarming scene. But the reality is that this seemingly harmless scenario hides a very real danger for the infant.
Dr. Sam Hanke found out about this danger in a very tragic way when he feel asleep with his four-week-old son on his chest. "I just sat down on the couch to watch some TV and he was kind of sitting on my chest. We were just hanging out and I nodded off. A couple hours later I woke up and Charlie was gone,” he recalls.
Sam's son Charlie had died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Doctors believe this is caused by a disruption in breathing which leads to oxygen deprivation and a slowing of the heart rate. When infants sleep face down or with a blanket, the risk of suffocation increases.
One year after Charlie's death, his parents founded the organization "Charlie's Kids" to help inform other parents about the dangers of certain sleeping positions and hopefully prevent other parents from experiencing a similar loss. To decrease the risk of SIDS, doctors recommend taking the following precautions:
- Infants should always sleep on their backs
- Infants should sleep on a flat, firm mattress
- Infants should only sleep in specially-made sleeping bags
- No pillows, blankets or other covers should be in the baby crib
Thanks to widespread awareness campaigns the death rate among newborns has steadily decreased. The image of an infant slumbering on a sleeping parent's chest may be endearing, but it's a scene that should be avoided at all costs. Always remember: make sure your child is in the proper sleeping position before you close your eyes to fall asleep.