Middletown infant’s death spurs warning for parents

Local health officials are reminding parents and caregivers of safe sleeping habits for infants after a 15-day-old Middletown baby died while sleeping in its mother’s bed, according to Middletown police.

Detectives were called to the teen mother’s home Wednesday morning on a report of a baby boy not breathing. Middletown paramedics transported the child to Atrium Medical Center, but were unable to revive him, police said.

MORE: Middletown’s Families First expand efforts to fight infant mortality

The mother had fed the child earlier and then gone back to sleep with the baby in her bed.

“About an hour later mom wakes up, notices the baby is blue, not breathing,” Middletown Police Lt. Scott Reeve said.

The mother called 911, and a preliminary investigation indicated the baby was positioned in such a way that its air supply was cut off, according to Reeve.

Reeve said detectives are not yet sure if the mother rolled over on the baby or if the baby’s face was pressed into the bed’s mattress or pillow.

There were no signs of trauma or abuse to the child, he said.

MORE: Butler County infant mortality rate shows improvement

“It is just one of those tragedies that occur when someone is sleeping with their baby,” Reeve said. “Everybody is heartbroken about it.”

Warren County Coroner Dr. Russell Uptegrove said this case appears to be an unfortunate accident that happens all too often when parents sleep with infants.

He said his office sees at least one or two similar deaths of infants annually.

“And they are totally preventable,” he said.

Uptegrove said to remember the ABCs of infant safe sleeping: A is for alone, B is for on their back, and C is for in a crib.

MORE: BabyLink service latest tool in preventing Butler County infant deaths

“I do not understand why people continue to put a little baby in bed with them,” Uptegrove said, noting national and local efforts to educate people about safe sleeping practices for infants.

“But we still see it. A child cannot get away if you roll over on it. Sometimes it is not someone rolling over on it, but the baby’s face being pressed into a pillow. A baby that young cannot roll over if it can’t breath,” he said.

Families First, a Middletown-based non-profit agency, offers educational tools and supplies to help parents assure the safety of their infants.

“We have free pack and play portable cribs and we have educated mothers and even a few fathers about proper sleeping (practices),” said Ruth Kelly, the agency’s director.

She said such education is also important for other caregivers — including grandparents.

“Sometimes we hear that aunties or grandmother said they put babies in bed with them. It is a generation thing and people think it is okay,” Kelly said. “We have to get out of that notion and educate the community, but it is difficult to reach everyone.”

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