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Published: Friday, 3/9/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Infant dies after sleeping in bed

BLADE STAFF

Authorities Friday were investigating the death of a 6-week-old girl who died while sleeping in the same bed as her parents.

Kira Thomas was declared dead at the home where she lived with her parents in the 3800 block of Drexel Drive in West Toledo, according to a Toledo police incident report.

The report, which has few details, says the baby was sleeping in her parents' bed Thursday.

The girls' parents are Lea Wuellner and Donald Thomas, ages not listed.

An autopsy on the infant was completed Friday by Dr. Diane Scala-Barnett, deputy coroner. She said she is awaiting test results before making a ruling on the cause of death, but she doesn't suspect foul play.

Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan said the investigation is pending the coroner's ruling.

Nationally, there is debate concerning the dangers of bed-sharing because of similar deaths of infants.

New parents are advised not to allow infants to sleep with them, said Dr. Jon Nicholson, a pediatrician at Mercy Children's Hospital. "The problem with bed-sharing is that parents sleep so deeply … the baby isn't strong enough to move its head or make a motion that would wake up an adult," Dr. Nicholson said. "It doesn't take any force at all."

He said bed-sharing, along with smoking and allowing a baby to sleep face down, are leading causes of sudden infant death syndrome.

"Unfortunately, some people feel it's better to breast-feed if the baby is right there in bed with the parents," Dr. Nicholson said.

"The nurses on the labor and delivery floor go though a whole laundry list [and] … we actually have [parents] sign a piece of paper to reduce the risk of SIDS, and one is 'don't bed-share.' "

Judith Bannon, executive director of the Pittsburgh-based organization Cribs for Kids, said the number of baby deaths from bed-sharing is rising despite all the precautions.

"We do have factions out there who argue in favor of bed-sharing … people [who say] 'because the animals have done this for years, people should do it,' " Ms. Bannon said.

"It is dangerous because you are putting a baby in a situation with soft bedding, human beings who are 98.6 degrees, so even if the baby isn't smothered, they can still breathe into a blanket or a quilt, and as they breathe in carbon dioxide, they slowly die in their sleep."

She said the safest place for a baby is in a crib without "bumpers."

"In Pittsburgh, where we get all of our referrals from the medical examiner's office, it has been eight years since we had a baby die of SIDS that was not in a bed or on a couch with an adult."



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