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Preventing infant deaths from unsafe sleeping conditions

Photo from Child Advocacy Center of Niagara website

There are some difficult statistics out of Niagara County regarding infant deaths.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says a new campaign will be kicked-off Tuesday to help raise awareness in an effort to prevent deaths of infants placed in unsafe sleeping conditions.

“It’s that it’s a trend that's persisting. It's not going away,” declared Ann Marie Tucker, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Niagara.

Ann Marie Tucker is executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Niagara.  Tucker tells WBFO News the risk of death for children in unsafe sleep conditions is very real. There have been ten infant deaths in Niagara County in just five years, three dying last year. The babies all under the age of six months and all from unsafe sleeping conditions.

“Even though there are so many efforts out there to promote safe sleep – in the hospital when the baby is born, in prenatal classes from agencies and organizations that work with families and infants and despite the focus, the problem persists,” Tucker explained.

The Niagara County Child Fatality Review Team tracks the deaths.  Sleeping with another person and on unsafe surfaces can cause infant deaths.

Tucker also points out infants start out in in a safe sleeping area, but the situation changes, putting them at risk.

“That babies may be put to sleep on their backs in an appropriate sleep setting when they first go to sleep, then when the wake up and when they try to be put back to bed that it’s hard and sometimes then the parent will lay down with the baby or put the baby to bed with a comforting toy or blanket or on their bellies – all things that are risk factors for kids,” Tucker noted.

Tucker's organization will gather with the Niagara County Social Services Department and other partners to unveil an awareness campaign called "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep". It will urge Niagara County residents to help prevent infant deaths.

“And part of what we are asking the community to do with this campaign is to recognized that parents could use a helping hand and to step in and provide support to that parent to try to help avoid these types of situations,” Tucker stated.