After the death of 11-week-old baby girl, Darcie-Rose Souster, doctors are using tragic incident to educate parents on the dangers of co-sleeping.
According to BBC News, an English corner issued the warning after finding the baby “died after being starved of oxygen as she slept on her father’s arm” at their family home.
“I feel it is important to stress that the public should be aware that sleeping with a baby, particularly young children, is unsafe,” said Anne Pember, Northamptonshire Senior Coroner.
Darcie-Rose reportedly died in January at Northampton General Hospital. Her 42-year-old father, Justin Souster, claims he awoke around 5 a.m. in his bed, only to find his daughter “floppy” and unresponsive.
His wife, Nicola, and one of their daughters were also in the bed at the time of the baby’s death.
While Darcie-Rose’s death is undoubtedly a tragedy, it’s a huge wake up call for parents around the world.
The Daily Mail UK reports that the pediatric pathologist who conducted the post-mortem examination, Dr. Roger Malcomson, found unmistakable signs of asphyxia, including blood in Darcie-Rose’s lungs.
He further explained there were no “suspicious circumstances” surrounding her death, but her placement in the bed was “an unsafe sleeping environment.”
Dr. Malcomson reportedly told the Souster Family:
“Given the (baby’s) head was on top of the (father’s) arm, with the neck flexed in that position the cause of death could be given aspositional asphyxiation in the context of co-sleeping [emphasis added]” Malcomson explained.
While many parents support co-sleeping, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD) has launched a campaign specifically to address the issue.
One local police department joined the cause by releasing the “Safe Sleep” campaign, a video in which a woman is recorded sleeping with a babydoll, and as she tosses and turns, the fake baby is visibly smothered. The campaignnotes that over 50% of the 4,000 infant deaths each year are due to unsafe sleep environments. Sids.org states that over the past 20 years in the United States, there has been a decrease in deaths classified as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and an increase in deaths classified as accidental suffocation.
According to the NICHHD, a suggested alternative to sharing the bed with you baby or children is room sharing— keeping the baby’s sleep area separate from your sleep area in the same room where you sleep.
One Texas family has heeded the warning of co-sleeping dangers and even built a five-person bed to keep their close-knit family safely together at night.
Other factors that make dozing off with an infant dangerous, are when:
- The adult smokes cigarettes or has consumed alcohol or medication that causes drowsiness
- The baby shares a bed with other children
- They’re sleeping on a couch, sofa, waterbed or armchair
- There are pillows and blankets in the bed
- The baby is younger than 11 weeks to 14 weeks of age
Darcie Rose’s life was sadly too short, but her story is echoing worldwide and will hopefully save other babies from the same tragedy.