A US mother has been arrested after her newborn baby was found dead in her bed, having accidentally suffocated to death.
Erin Piche-Pitts’ son was less than a month old, and his death was the second time an infant had died in her care, according to The New York Times.
Her 13-day-old daughter Angelina died of suffocation in 2009.
The death of Ms Piche-Pitts’ son occurred in October, and she was charged in November. However, she has only been taken into custody this week.
The arrest follows a similar case in the US, where a Pennsylvania mother was arrested after two of her children died after suffocating due to co-sleeping.
It highlights the dangers of co-sleeping – a controversial but common practice both in the US and in Australia.
Here, SIDS and Kids Australia recommends that babies sleep in their own bed. However, one study found that up to 80 per cent of babies share their parents’ bed at some point in their first few months.
Ms Piche-Pitts claims that her daughter died after Ms Piche-Pitts fell asleep while breastfeeding in bed. When she woke up her daughter was ‘cold and stiff to the touch’.
Local chief assistant state attorney Brian Hass told The New York Times: “These are very, very difficult cases. We are not charging parents with crimes because accidents happen. There has got to be something more to it.”
In New Zealand, where co-sleeping is common among Maori families, a coroner recently that Maori parents use a wahakura (a flax-woven bassinet) to safely co-sleep with babies, according to the NZ Herald.
In 2006, a plastic version of the wahakura, a pepi-pod (which costs $100) was created by a NZ GP who was concerned by the number of Maori accidental asphyxiation deaths. The New Zealand government is currently looking at whether to officially recommend the product.
SIDs and Kids Australia recommends to:
1. Sleep baby on the back from birth, not on the tummy or side
2. Sleep baby with head and face uncovered
3. Keep baby smoke free before birth and after
4. Provide a Safe Sleeping Environment night and day (Safe cot, Safe mattress, Safe bedding)
5. Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult caregiver for the first six to twelve months
6. Breastfeed baby
To find out more about safe sleeping for newborns, visit SIDS and Kids Australia.