When a baby dies while sleeping on a couch with a carer impaired by alcohol, we must ask ‘Where is the village?‘; where is the ‘village of support’ for the mother and the ‘village of protection’ for her baby?
The Crimes Act 1961 defines the legal duties of parents and carers. New Zealand has seen women jailed for ‘gross negligence’ relating to unsafe sleep conditions for their babies combined with use of alcohol, and this is not an uncommon mix of conditions in current sudden infant death cases.
This Christmas, New Year and beyond we need to ‘act as a village‘ to prevent any possibility of such a double tragedy. As we know too well, hidden amongst the fun and festivities of the holiday season are potential risks for babies from disrupted routines and sleeping arrangements, more social activities involving alcohol, and more chance that the care of babies is shared with older children.
This time of year is full of images of a Baby sleeping ‘face-up, face clear, in own space, with carers near‘. Falling mortality statistics suggest that these simple principles are protecting more and more of our babies. However, alcohol impairs judgement and to be ‘drunk in charge of a baby’ can be lethal for that baby. ‘Arrange a sober carer’ is to be a stronger focus of our prevention work of 2015.
May you, and all in this network of Safe Sleep champions, enjoy the best of this festive season knowing that your work is making this country a safer place into which to be born.
Until next time, Stephanie