Roundtable event to reach out to parents
By Kathy Chaffin
A June 30 Child Well Being Community Roundtable sponsored by the Rowan County Department of Social Services will focus on factors that put infants at risk, including co-sleeping with family members.
Dr. Sara Sinal of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center will speak at the community roundtable, scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church Fellowship Building. The public is invited to attend.
Sinal will address the dangers of co-sleeping. She’ll also provide information about Shaken Baby Syndrome, a type of inflicted traumatic brain injury that happens when a baby is violently shaken, and the Period of Purple Crying, which explains why it is normal for some babies to cry and offers parents advice on how to cope with non-stop infant crying.
She is a professor of pediatrics and family and community medicine and the medical director of the Child Medical Evaluation Team at Brenner Children’s Hospital.
Rowan Social Services Director Sandra Wilkes said the board decided to address factors that put infants at risk based on the number of North Carolina Child Fatality Reviews that determine co-sleeping as a factor in infant deaths. Co-sleeping was also ruled a factor in a December 2008 Rowan County Child Fatality Review of the May 2, 2008, death of Emmanuel Campusano Jr.
The 8-month-old was “reportedly on a pillow on the couch between the legs of the father who had one leg on the floor, one on top of the couch, with a 19-month-old sibling sleeping on his chest,” said a report on the review. The infant “was found unresponsive, lifeless at home, with failure to respond to resuscitation measures by EMS at the scene.”
Wilkes said that even though the N.C. Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the cause of death as undetermined, “we could not rule out suffocation. This was an infant that also had some respiratory problems ….”
This year’s community roundtable is part of a campaign to educate parents on the danger of co-sleeping. “We understand that many parents do co-sleep with their children and that this is a longstanding tradition in many, many families,” she said, “and there is certainly no law against that.
“However, we do know that there have been deaths throughout the United States that have been attributed to suffocation when children have been placed in the same bed with their parents.”
Infants have also died from improper bedding, she said. Some too young to roll over, for example, have suffocated after becoming wedged between pillows.
As part of the campaign to educate parents, Wilkes said Social Services is trying to help provide cribs and proper bedding for parents unable to afford them. “We are seeking donations from the community for used cribs that are in good condition and meet the standards as recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission,” she said.
So far, the department has received donations of 10 cribs and more than $500 designated for the purchase of cribs. Wilkes said six of the cribs have already been distributed to parents unable to afford them.
“We’re very pleased with the donations because we’ve actually done very little outreach in the community except through the One Church, One Child program,” she said.
One Church, One Child
Headed up by Jon Hunter, foster care and adoption recruiter/trainer for the department, One Church, One Child is part of a nationwide program to solicit the help of churches in finding adoptive homes for foster children.
At this point, Wilkes said providing cribs for needy parents is a service only available to families already served by the department.
Anyone interested in donating a crib or money to buy cribs for parents who can’t afford them is asked to call Hunter at 704-216-7914.
People planning to attend the Child Well Being Community Roundtable are asked to pre-register by contacting Kelley Williams at 704-216-8400 or Kelley.Williams @rowancountync.gov.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-7683.