MILWAUKEE-- Forty-five infants died in Milwaukee County in 2017, and 25 of them died due to an unsafe sleep environment, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office.
That's nearly a 41 percent increase from 2016, where 32 infant deaths were investigated and only 13 of them were due to unsafe sleep environments.
These numbers were released from the ME's office on Tuesday morning, only hours after they were called to another infant death at 91st Street and Metcalf Place. The autopsy will be done on Wednesday to determine the cause of death.
In a Dec. 21 news release from the Milwaukee Health Department, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett addressed the importance of safe sleep environments.
"While we have made progress in reducing infant deaths citywide, in 2017 a concerning increase in sleep-related infant deaths have been reported," Barrett said. "These tragic deaths can be prevented. I urge parents and caregivers to follow safe sleep practices and ask that our partners educate parents about ways to keep infants safe."
The city of Milwaukee has been active in addressing the problem of co-sleeping related deaths for years, but, according to the release, these high numbers have not been seen since 2007.
Sleep-related deaths are the third leading cause of death for infants in Milwaukee, with an average of 15-20 dying each year.
The Milwaukee Health Department urges all parents and caregivers to follow the ABC'S of safe sleep.
- A = Alone, never on the same sleep surface as a parent, caregiver, or other children
- B = On his/her back, never on their stomach or side
- C = In a crib that is free of bumper pads, pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals
- S = In a smoke-free home
The MHD operates a citywide Cribs for Kids program, which provides free safe sleep environments to more than 800 families annually. Anyone who is in need of a safe-sleep environment can call 414-286-8620.