Onondaga County Child Fatality Review Team
About Us
Team Members
Directory of Team Members
Safe Sleep
Conference Materials
Annual Reports
What’s New
Contact Us
Facebook, Safe Sleep Syracuse, Just for Men
Safe Sleep

Many Incidents of SUID Can be Prevented
The Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be placed on their back to sleep by Kathleen M. Dermady

Safe Sleep for Babies: 2 Pediatricians Explain How
Upstate’s HealthLink on Air

  • Putting babies in a safe sleep environment can reduce the risk of infant death. Two Upstate physicians who are part of Onondaga County’s Child Fatality Review Team discuss how to prevent the leading cause of death among infants in Onondaga County. Alicia Pekarsky, MD, is an associate professor of pediatrics, and Erin Hanley, MD, is an assistant professor of pediatrics and of emergency medicine. They explain how and why to place a baby to sleep on his or her back in a crib without blankets or stuffed animals. They note how to keep the baby warm enough, why twins shouldn't sleep together and what to do if a baby falls asleep on a parent’s chest while watching television in a recliner. They also share some safe ways for parents to bond with their babies.
  • Downloadable 15 minutes podcast (mp3)

Infant Deaths in Central New York Can Be Prevented
Health Department press release, October 8, 2020

More Infants Die in Dangerous Sleep Conditions in North Country
By Briana Smith, August 25, 2020
Entire article at Spectrum News
PDF of article

Madden James Patrick Mooney

Madden James Patrick Mooney would have been 7 years old this month.

What you need to now

"My son passed away in 2014," said Jenna Ellinger, Madden’s mother. "He was placed in an unsafe sleep environment. He was surrounded in an adult bed by pillows and blankets and stuffed animals. He was put to sleep for his nap time at his daycare provider’s house."

Ellinger says her son’s death may have been out of her control that day, but now she has the power to prevent it from happening again.

"I know what my kids go through every day," said Ellinger. "I know what I go through every day. I think it’s important that we talk about it, and that it’s really happening or else nothing is ever going to change."

Ellinger became the Child Fatality Review Team Coordinator for Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties at the Victims Assistance Center.

She says unsafe sleep is the number one fatality among infants, losing seven infants just this year.

"My only worry is that these numbers keep going on the rise before we can get ahead of it and right now we’re real behind it," said Ellinger.

She’s reminding guardians to follow the standard safe sleep practices.

Read entire article at https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/central-ny/news/2020/08/26/more-infants-die-in-dangerous-sleep-conditions-in-north-country

More Infants Dying From Unsafe Sleep Conditions in Onondaga County
By Briana Smith, January 28, 2020
https://spectrumlocalnews.com   (PDF)

View video and entire article

Some of the youngest and most innocent are losing their lives within seconds.

"In general pediatrics, that’s probably a couple of times a year that there’s a baby whose died from our practice," said Dr. Alicia Pekarsky, a SUNY Upstate Medical University associate professor of Pediatrics. "It’s absolutely devastating."

Feelings felt by both the parents and Pekarsky.

"There are some types of deaths that aren’t preventable, but it always feels like a heartbreak for me when there is a death that’s completely preventable," said Pekarsky.

The Onondaga County Child Fatality Review Team says more infants are dying from unsafe sleep conditions.

"In the past 10 years since I’ve been coordinator, we’ve reviewed 48 deaths," said Christine Larkin, the Onondaga County Child Fatality Review Team coordinator. "This past year has gone up."

Right now, there are about 7 deaths each year and that number is rising.

Larkin says specifically in the African American community where babies are dying 2 to 1.

"Majority of the cases we see are infants who are dying in adult beds," said Larkin. "The majority of them are sleeping with another adult or child. Or they might be in their own crib, but they have soft bedding, blankets, pillows, that they can suffocate."

Car seats, strollers and couches also put babies at risk.

But the team is working hard to clear up any confusion.

"It’s extremely important that babies sleep by themselves," said Pekarsky. "Not only do you want to avoid adults in the bed, you should also avoid siblings."

Pekarsky says most people know to put babies on their backs and refrain from soft blankets and bedding.

"I have to reinforce over and over again, no bumper pads [and] nothing hanging from the side," said Pekarsky. "We never want to see a family calling us or finding out from a medical examiner that the baby died in a preventable way. It’s just not worth the risk. It has to be a safe sleep, every single time."

Some parents are concerned their babies will have flat spots on their heads from laying on their backs, but Pekarksy says "tummy time" will help mitigate that problem.

The Onondaga County Child Fatality Team also raises awareness by having safe sleep education classes throughout the community and in schools. If you’re interested in attending the class of having the team talk, you can email Christine Larkin at clarkin@mcmahonryan.org.


Onondaga County Child Fatality Review Team
McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center
601 East Genesee Street
Syracuse, New York 13202

copyright 2010-2022