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Milwaukee Rocks the Bed with Controversial Co-sleeping Ads

Co-sleeping

The ad campaign was launched following the annoucement of another co-sleeping death in Milwaukee

Co-sleeping is one of those parenting/health debates that will never be settled. The city of Milwaukee has let it be known in no uncertain terms on which side of the aisle they fall.

One look at their new ad campaign, and you can see they’re not supportive of co-sleeping.

There are two posters in the recently unveiled campaign, both of which show babies (one white, one black) sleeping in a bed next to a large knife. The text reads: “Your baby sleeping next to you can be just as dangerous.”

Last month the American Academy of Pediatrics issued updated guidelines about how sleep-related infant fatalities can be reduced. Among the recommendations is that while babies should sleep in the same room as parents so they may be monitored closely, they should not sleep in the same bed. Co-sleeping increases the risk of suffocation, according to the AAP.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting the city has an “infant mortality crisis,” with 10.4 deaths for every 1,000 live births in 2009. The goal is to reduce that number by 10 percent by 2017.

Sudden infant death syndrome is reportedly the second-leading cause of infant mortality in Milwaukee, and that’s often the result of “unsafe sleep,” according to the city’s health department website. Co-sleeping, or bed-sharing with parents, is considered by many to be unsafe.

“[Are the new ads] shocking? [Are they] provocative?” asked Bevan Baker, the city’s commissioner of health, according to the Journal Sentinel. “Yes. But what is even more shocking and provocative is that 30 developed and underdeveloped countries have better [infant death] rates than Milwaukee.”

Shortly before the new sleep-safe advertising campaign was announced this month, a 7-week-old baby was found dead in Milwaukee after co-sleeping with his or her mother. It was the ninth such co-sleeping death in the city this year.

A campaign in Milwaukee was announced earlier this year with an initial $200,000 grant to improve mother and child health in ZIP codes with the worst birth outcomes. The grant will fund a nurse and social worker, who will work to address factors that contribute to infant mortality,

Many co-sleeping advocates are passionate about the practice and argue the risk of harm to a co-sleeping infant is reduced by a breastfeeding, normal-weight, sober, non-smoking mother.

Do you think the ads are too provocative, or is Milwaukee playing fair in an effort to reduce the number of infant fatalities?

Image: City of Milwaukee Health Department

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