The Texas Departments of Family and Protective Services and State Health Services are launching a "Room to Breathe" campaign to educate parents about the dangers of co-sleeping, a controversial subject that they appear to be approaching with caution.
Some 400 Texas babies die every year, either "without a clear explanation," or due to accidental suffocation or strangulation, according to a press release from the agencies. Last year, Child Protective Services investigated 166 infant deaths that occurred while infants slept with adults or other children.
"Many might have been prevented by giving babies 'Room to Breathe,'" the press release notes.
But co-sleeping is a touchy subject. There are entire organizations devoted to the practice, which ardent advocates say promotes breastfeeding and parent-child bonding. Advocates say it's safer the crib or cot sleeping when it's practiced correctly — and that it doesn't lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or other infant deaths.
The agencies are developing "Room to Breathe" TV and radio ads, designing so-called "safe sleep" training for child care workers and CPS caseworkers, and adding information to brochures given to parents by prenatal care providers. They're also starting a parent education pilot program in three Texas counties early next year, and developing a study of how Texas parents put their babies to sleep.