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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Law would require new parents to learn about babies' sleep safety

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Michigan health officials want to do a better job of educating parents about the dangers of co-sleeping with their babies. 

Sometimes parents think they're protecting their children by keeping them close.

But that can be deadly for infants, who can suffocate in bedding  or if someone rolls over on them, says Colin Parks, state manager for the Children's Protective Services office.

"That's a huge factor in these deaths -- 140-150 of these a year. They're 100 percent preventable deaths, and it's just a tragedy," Parks says. He says the message is simple, but important: "To insure that children are put to sleep on their backs, in a crib, in a safe sleep environment."

That means no co-sleeping, and no blankets or stuffed animals in a baby's crib.

Michigan's First Lady Sue Snyder spoke in support of two House bills that would establish a safe sleep education program.

The bills would also require hospitals to distribute the materials. Parents would have to sign a form acknowledging they received, read and understood them.

One of the bills would also require the Michigan Department of Community Health programs to educate parents about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).