September 3, 2009 in City, News

Spike in SIDS deaths prompts warning

By The Spokesman-Review

A worrisome spike in the number of sudden infant deaths – 13 in the past 18 months – has prompted health officials to remind parents about the dangers posed to children from second-hand smoke and sleeping in the same bed with their parents.

These are two of the leading risks thought to contribute to SIDS, and both factor in the local deaths, said Julie Graham, spokeswoman for the Spokane Regional Health District. About half the deaths occurred in situations where babies slept with parents.

Babies can suffocate if they sleep on pillows that are too fluffy or if they get too close to a parent. They can also become too warm in some cases, Graham said.

In several cases, babies that died slept in close proximity to second-hand smoke, which contains carcinogens especially dangerous to infants.

Despite the warnings, pregnant women in Spokane smoke at twice the rate of the state average.

The numbers are tied, Graham said, to education levels and economics. The number of pregnant women on Medicaid who smoked was 31.7 percent – three times higher than pregnant women not on Medicaid, the federal/state program providing government health insurance for the poor.

That goes along with an adult population that smokes with children in the home at rates exceeding state norms, according to a state study released this week.

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