Bed-Sharing Is Cited in Deaths; Spike in City Laid to Poor Economy Shifting Families' Living Conditions

By Cambria, Nancy | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), July 29, 2012 | Go to article overview

Bed-Sharing Is Cited in Deaths; Spike in City Laid to Poor Economy Shifting Families' Living Conditions


Cambria, Nancy, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


St. Louis - The police detective sees the same tragedy again and again, typically in the dark hours of the night.

Tired mothers or fathers place a baby on a bed or couch with them, or nestle the baby on their chest, and then fall asleep. As they sleep the baby tangles in the bedding, or rolls facedown into a mattress, or gets wedged under an adult or sibling also in the bed.

They wake to find their baby blue and lifeless.

"I respond right away to these calls, and what I see are broken- up families. Torn-up people," said Tonya Tanksley, a detective in the St. Louis Police Department's child abuse unit. "And unfortunately, most of the time, when we go into the properties, we see a crib, and the crib is filled with dirty clothes or other things - everything but the baby."

Since the start of this year, the St. Louis Medical Examiner's Office has recorded six infant deaths determined or suspected to be caused by sharing a bed or couch. In 2011, the office recorded seven such deaths for the whole year.

The spike in what health experts consider preventable accidental deaths has led some to tie it to the high foreclosure and eviction rates in a poor economy. It has also prompted the St. Louis Department of Health to issue a public safety warning of the elevated risk of suffocation and sudden infant death syndrome - or SIDS - from sharing a bed or a couch with a baby.

Babies should always sleep alone, on their backs, in a crib, the health advisory states.

"Parents should never allow a toddler or infant to sleep in an adult's bed, a chair or a sofa, even if the adult is present," said Interim City Health Director Pamela Walker.

Walker said she became aware of the problem after sitting in a city child fatality review session on another matter. She was shocked when she saw the agenda had numerous infant deaths all related to bed-sharing.

"I just don't think people understand the risks that they're taking with their babies," she said. "You love them so much, and you cuddle and you nurse and you doze off. Unless someone puts it in your face, and unless doctors tell you what a risk it is, people do it."

ECONOMIC FACTORS

Tanksley believes the spike in St. Louis this year is tied to the poor economy and the large displacement of families because of foreclosures and evictions. She said the sudden displacements force families to move in with relatives or friends, where they typically share a bedroom. In some cases, if cribs are available they are used to store items from a move.

When she investigates a sleep death, Tanksley commonly finds whole families sharing beds. Half of the deaths so far this year in the city involved bed-sharing with a parent and also siblings, according to the medical examiner's office.

Dr. James Kemp, a pediatrician who is co-director of sleep medicine at St. Louis Children's Hospital and a leading researcher in how sleep environment is linked to sudden unexpected infant death, said Tanksley's theory on economic displacement fell in line with current research.

"One of the factors that leads to bed-sharing is a recent move by the mother," he said.

Officials with St. Louis County, where there has also been a high number of foreclosures, report no such spike. There have been two bed-sharing fatalities since the start of the year.

State officials who compile child fatality data said it was unclear whether such fatalities had been increasing statewide with the weak economy. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bed-Sharing Is Cited in Deaths; Spike in City Laid to Poor Economy Shifting Families' Living Conditions
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.