An Ohio mother was charged with involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment after her 6-week-old died as a result of co-sleeping almost a year to the date that another child also died at 6 weeks old as a result of co-sleeping, prosecutors said.
Brooke Hunter was warned of the dangers of co-sleeping following the first infant's death, Amy Clausing, an assistant prosecuting attorney with the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office, said in a statement.
"Because of the prior incident, the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office ruled the second child’s death a homicide," the statement said.
The second incident happened June 22, while the first death occurred "almost exactly one year prior," Clausing said.
About 3,500 infants die of sleep-related causes each year in the United States, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The number has fallen drastically since the 1990s when "national efforts to promote infant safe sleep, mainly through the Back-to-Sleep campaign" educated caregivers about safe sleep for infants, according to the National Library of Medicine.
In addition to recommending that babies be put to sleep on their backs on a flat surface with nothing in the crib or bassinet until the age of 1, the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages bed-sharing.
"The AAP understands and respects that many parents choose to routinely bed share for a variety of reasons, including facilitation of breastfeeding, cultural preferences, and belief that it is better and safer for their infant," the group says on its website. "However, based on the evidence, we are unable to recommend bed sharing under any circumstances."
"The risk of sleep-related infant death while bed sharing is 5 to 10 times higher when your baby is younger than 4 months old," according to the group.