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Yakima Valley deaths serve as reminders for safely sleeping infants

UPDATED: Sun., March 5, 2017, 3:19 p.m.

Keyshla Rivera smiles at her newborn son  as a registered nurse demonstrates a baby box before her discharge from Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia in 2016. The American Academy of Pediatrics announced new recommendations for safe infant sleeping on Oct. 24, 2016. (Matt Rourke / AP)
Keyshla Rivera smiles at her newborn son as a registered nurse demonstrates a baby box before her discharge from Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia in 2016. The American Academy of Pediatrics announced new recommendations for safe infant sleeping on Oct. 24, 2016. (Matt Rourke / AP)

YAKIMA — For the second time in less than a month, a Yakima Valley infant has suffocated while sleeping with a parent, according to the Yakima County Coroner’s Office.

Infant deaths from suffocation have reached or surpassed the number of infants who die from sudden infant death syndrome in Yakima County, according to the Yakima Health District, which warns parents against sleeping in bed with infants.

In the past four years, the coroner’s office has recorded one infant death due to SIDS, but eight due to positional asphyxia, in which a sleeping infant gets into a position where it can no longer get adequate oxygen because it’s blocked by blankets, other objects or the body of the adult it’s sleeping with.

The danger isn’t only that a parent can fall asleep and roll onto an infant, but that the child could also get into a position where it can’t properly breathe, Hawkins said.

“Having the crib or the bassinet in the room is good, but having the infant in bed with you is a bad idea,” said David Miller, a public health nurse with the health district.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says infants should be put to sleep on their backs on a firm mattress with a tight-fitting sheet and nothing else in the crib.

Blankets, pillows, stuffed animals and other soft objects in the crib can cover an infant’s face or otherwise obstruct its breathing.

Babies should wear lightweight sleep clothing, the pediatric academy says. They should be warm enough to sleep without covers, but not hot. The academy suggests keeping the room between 70 and 72 degrees.

Sleep-related deaths are the most common cause of post-neonatal infant mortality, according to the health district.

Miller said local maternal-child health programs provide programs on sleep safety and other infant safety topics for new parents.

Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, Yakima Neighborhood Health and Virginia Mason Memorial have some of the largest programs of this type in the area, Miller said.

Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic provides community health services programs throughout the state that offer support during pregnancy and after birth, said communications coordinator Amber Betts.

Infant case management and maternity support services are offered at locations in Grandview, Prosser, Spokane, Toppenish, Walla Walla, Wapato and Yakima. Maternal and child health services are offered at clinic locations in Yakima County only, Betts said.

Contact information for individual locations is available on the website, at www.yvfwc.com.

Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital provides education to expectant and new parents. Before new parents leave the hospital with their infants, they also receive information on the ABC’s (A-alone, B-on their Backs, C-in a Crib) of safe sleep, said Vivian Loudon, a nurse manager with the Family Birthplace.

The facility also provides video education and works to verbally educate parents before they leave the hospital.



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