By Tamas Mondovics

The appropriately-named Safe Sleep Campaign and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office along with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) have joined forces to raise awareness of the dangers of infants sleeping with parents or other siblings.

The DCF reports that since January 2013, 143 alleged reports of babies dying due to unsafe sleeping conditions have been called in to the Florida Abuse Hotline.

Closer to home in Hillsborough County, which includes the City of Tampa, City of Temple Terrace and Plant City, there were 17 recorded co-sleeping suffocation deaths in 2012. Since January 1 – November 31, 2013, there have been 12 recorded deaths.

“These child deaths, from ages two-eight months old, have been a result of parents co-sleeping, children co-sleeping and inappropriate bed/bedding and could have been easily prevented,” said Major Robert Bullara of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Child Protective Investigation Division.

In a recent press release, HSCO said that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep alone, on their backs, in a crib, clear of all pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, toys, bumpers and sleep positionable devices.

The AAP reports that infants definitely need to sleep alone in a crib as the risk of death is 40 percent higher for infants who sleep in adult beds and although many caregivers want to provide beautiful sleep environments, the infants are not ready for it yet as they are not able to move their heads away from stuffed animals or pillows to have a clear airway to breathe.

HCSO spokesperson, Larry McKinnon, said that HCSO Child Protective Investigation Division keeps a constant supply of ‘Pack-n-Play’ cribs.

“Child Protection Investigators can provide to families “Pack-n-Play” cribs after they’ve identified a need for safe sleeping quarters for an infant,” McKinnon said.

Anyone needing a safe crib is asked to call the department at 627-2039.

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