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Co-sleeping linked to child deaths in Santa Barbara County repor - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Co-sleeping linked to child deaths in Santa Barbara County report

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The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department released a new report on child deaths in the county from 2015-2016.

According to the report, in 2015, 25 out of 35 deaths were due to medical conditions. In 2016, 20 out of 29 deaths were also due to medical conditions.

The Child Death Review Team Issues report also found that five of the infant deaths that occurred in that time period were due to co-sleeping, or bed sharing. San Luis Obispo County Public Health told KSBY there have been two deaths in the last ten years related to co-sleeping. 

Kelley Barragan, the program coordinator with the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program with Santa Barbara County, says bed sharing is not recommended. 

"It is recommended to keep the infant in the room for at least up to a year of age," Barragan said. 

Locals, like Reina Jones and Linda Solis, say they don't think co-sleeping is dangerous. 

"Co-sleeping is actually pretty beneficial because I get more rest and it's easier for me because I'm still breastfeeding," Jones said. 

Jones has been bed sharing with her 18-month-old, Woodloe, since she came home from the hospital. 

"It's really good for bonding. It's really special, actually," Jones said. 

Solis says her nine-month-old, Cisco, sleeps in bed with her, too, just like her two other sons did. 

"I just have them in my arms and I feel more secure knowing that they're with me and that they're okay," Solis said. 

Barragan says infants should be in their own sleeping space, such as a crib, with fitted sheets, and on a firm mattress. She says when an infant death occurs due to bed sharing, it means the infant was in a soft space where pillows and other blankets could have covered their faces, or from a parental overlay.

That's something Bryan Fitzgerald of Lompoc says he never wanted to chance with his daughter. 

"When my daughter was born we always had the crib next to the bed, never let her sleep with us, just in case we roll over," Fitzgerald said. "It just never seemed like a good idea in my opinion."

Barragan says, according to a survey known as the Maternal Infant Health Assessment, 45 percent of Santa Barbara County residents say they sometimes co-sleep or co-sleep full time with their infant, compared to 35 percent statewide. 

For more information on creating a safe sleep environment, click here.

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