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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Suspicious SIDS Case in Texas

Published April 19, 2012 11:27 AM by Robin Hocevar

This month, a mother in Texas was convicted of child endangerment after a second baby died of SIDS due to co-sleeping.

In July 2010, Vanessa and Mark Clark's 2-month old son died while sleeping with his parents. Vanessa Clark had Xanax and Hydrocodone in her system. Less than a year earlier, the couple's 1-month old son died in the parents' bed. No charges were ever filed, as the first baby's death was classified as SIDS.

Clark's defense team said Child Protective Services gave Clark a brochure for safe co-sleeping after the death of her first son, but did not prohibit it.

We're living in an age of constant information streaming and it's hard to believe any parent would be ignorant of the dangers of co-sleeping under the influence of drugs. It's almost unconscionable that a family who has already buried a child would bring an infant into their bed again. That being said, I've also compromised safety by moving a baby to our bed at 3 a.m. in the name of a few hours' shuteye (although never under the influence of Xanax and Hydrocodone).

In Milwaukee, The HOPE Network provides free portable cribs to single mother families with demonstrated financial need. Parents are required to take a safe sleep class to qualify for the crib. While it's impossible to quantify how many little lives this initiative may have saved, it illustrates a growing awareness of SIDS prevention.

In the Clark case, there's no evidence that they didn't have the financial means to provide a crib. How do you pediatric nurses dissuade determined parents from co-sleeping? Has anyone ever encountered a family with two SIDS deaths?

Hopefully, this  tragic case will raise awareness about the dangers of this still too-popular practice.


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