Law enforcement, health organizations team up against sleep-related infant deaths
September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month and local law enforcement and health agencies are hoping to prevent co-sleeping deaths in the state.
Since 2005, The Dauphin County District Attorney’s office says close to 30 infants have died in the county.
They say some of them were from a dangerous habit.
"We have identified approximately eight children over the past three or four years that have died as a result of some type of co-sleeping or unsafe sleeping environment,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Sean McCormack said.
The District Attorney’s office, along with local law enforcement and local hospitals have created a task force to prevent co-sleeping deaths.
They say their goal is to speak out about the deadly dangers of the habit and teach the ABC’s of safe sleep.
"Alone, back, crib have your child sleep alone and that also means not co-sleeping," McCormack said, "but don't have all sorts of blankets and pillows and in the crib with the child - sleep on their back and then in a crib."
In Lancaster County, one health organization is going beyond educating new parents with these.
The boxes, a Finnish tradition, are now available to new parents who live in Columbia Borough through St. Joseph’s Children’s Health.
While full of baby supplies, the box is actually designed to hold only two things inside - a mattress and a baby.
"It's not replacing cribs, which are certainly very important, but we want to make sure people have a safe space for a long period of time. This gives you that option that if you have to go to the grandparent’s house, and they don't necessarily have a crib there, you have flexibility there,” President of CHI St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Philip Goropoulos said.
They hope by offering these boxes, along with educating parents, they’ll see a decrease in accidental co-sleeping deaths.
"It's not that anyone is purposely trying to hurt their child, in this circumstance, but when you're sleeping you move around, your children move around. Sometimes you could have an incident where this happens and someone dies,” Goropoulos said.
Baby boxes are available for residents in the 17512 zip code.
More information can be found on their website.