Co-Sleeping Caution: Why Rock Island County Coroner Says Don’t Do It

A warning to all parents tonight as a Quad City couple faces jail time after investigators say they were sleeping in the same bed with their son, 4-month-old Anterio, when they rolled over and killed him.

Terri Wells, 30 and Anthony Schlieper, Jr., 24 have both been charged with felonies and made their first appearance in a Rock Island County courtroom on Wednesday, August 6th, 2014. The Moline couple has been released with a preliminary hearing scheduled for August 12th, 2014.

Meanwhile, News 8 interviewed Rock Island County Coroner, Brian Gustafson, to learn more about this topic.

Called “co-sleeping,” he says it’s a common practice, but he says many baby deaths involve co-sleeping.

“In this county, I average about four or five dead babies a year,” he said. “It’s actually quite sad and a majority of them die from what we call ‘Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy’ and if there’s a history of co-sleeping with the baby, I always have to put that on the death certificate. I truly believe that it’s a huge contributing factor.”

Gustafson says he didn’t always feel this way.

“You know, my parents slept with me. I slept with my daughter. Since I became active in the Illinois Child Death Review team, I’m absolutely against it.”

Gustafson has been on that state-appointed team for six years and says 60%-65% of the cases they investigate involve co-sleeping.

“We get together to try as a team to come up with solutions to prevent child deaths in the state of Illinois and it’s real hard when it’s just like a broken record – again and again and again… back to sleep, that’s what we want. Put the child back to sleep in its own bed.”

However, not everyone agrees.

Natalie Hessell with La Leche League of the Quad Cities shared this statement with WQAD:

“Many families will share a sleep space with their babies, either planned or unplanned. It is safer to know how to create a safe sleep space. Know the risk factors. There are definitely times that sharing a sleep surface is not recommended – intoxication, parental smoking, pets or other children in the bed, for example.”

She also shared some links with information about creating a safe sleeping environment for your child:

http://cosleeping.nd.edu/

https://www.isisonline.org.uk/about/

The Centers for Disease Control also has information about this topic:

http://www.cdc.gov/features/sidsawarenessmonth/

Meanwhile, Gustafson says there’s only one safe place where your baby should sleep.

“There’s still individuals who believe that it encourages the bonding between mother and baby,” he said. “I don’t believe that. There’s one place for a baby to sleep and that’s in a crib. It can be two paces away from your bed but it’s in his or her own crib.”

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