Prosecutor Pushing For Change After Infant Deaths

By WISE Web News

February 28, 2012 Updated Feb 28, 2012 at 7:18 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - Multiple infant deaths are prompting change for one Indiana prosecutor. Delaware County Prosecutor Jeff Arnold says his county has seen more deaths where co-sleeping is the problem.

Arnold says he's seen 9 infant deaths in just over a year. In many of those cases he says the parents were sleeping with their babies.

"I'm not going to overlook that anymore as stupidity, I'm going to try to prosecute those cases,” said Jeffery Arnold, Delaware County Prosecutor.

Arnold's ideas may be controversial but health officials agree.

"Babies need their own safe sleep area and we can not be co-sleeping with our babies,” said Heather Henry, Community Based Registered Nurse, Parkview Health.

As Arnold is pushing for prosecution Parkview Health in Fort Wayne is educating new parents about the danger of co-sleeping. The Parkview Health class teaches parents about safe sleeping and shows them how to put together a pack and play that they also get to take home.

"It's something so simple as getting the information out there, teaching people what they need to know,” said Henry.

Arnold says under current state law he can, and will prosecute parents of babies who die in co-sleeping situations in Delaware County. But he does say he will only go that route if other factors are involved, like alcohol or drugs.

"I'm not prosecuting that parent who just lacks the education or the knowledge to not co-sleep,” said Arnold.

Parkview offers these classes regularly but Tuesday was the first day they had a community-wide class. They plan to continue offering the community-wide class free to residents.

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