BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Meagan Gries’ first day back from maternity leave after giving birth to her daughter Molly is the stuff of nightmares.
“I dropped Molly off with a sitter we had been using with Owen for a few years,” Gries said.
Hours later she got a phone call from that babysitter, Molly wasn’t breathing.
“Instantly your heart drops into your stomach.” She raced to her baby who’d been rushed to the hospital.
“The doctor walked in and started crying,” Gries remembers. “She said Molly came in, no heartbeat, wasn’t breathing. They did everything they could but she was gone.”
Doctors first thought Molly’s death was a case of SIDS, but 3 months later, the coroner told her it was positional asphyxiation--created by blankets in the portable crib she was napping in.
“Unfortunately Molly was propped on her side, rolled on to her belly and because of the blankets couldn’t breathe,” Gries learned.
Now Gries is warning other parents about safe sleep practices.
“Nothing makes you feel more powerless than losing a child. We can’t bring Molly back but we can tell what happened with Molly in hopes that someone else will go take that blanket out of the crib, move their baby from their belly to their back and their baby will wake up tomorrow."
The Gries’ weren’t surprised to hear about the recent recall of the Fisher Price Rock n Play, and the Kids II inclined sleepers. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says those products are responsible for at least 35 infant deaths.
“We don’t want to have them propped up on their side like Molly was or in a rock-n-play, cradles them like a hammock,” Gries warns. “That creates opportunities for the babies to end up face down, face sideways turned around.”
“What they found with many of these inclined sleepers is that the baby is not buckled and they put their face against the padding and that’s not safe,” says Lorrie Considine from the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Board of Health.
Considine says the rollover and suffocation risk is real.
"I’m urging parents to stop using this product immediately,” says Ann Marie Buerkle, Acting chair of the CPSC.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies sleep alone (no blankets, stuffed animals, pillows or bumpers) on their backs, and flat in a crib.
“A product like a rock-n-play or any number of sleep positioners that are out there are not made for routine unsupervised sleep,” Buerkle warns.
“The research has been done, the data out there, the message has been written, we just need to tell it,” says Jeff Gries, Molly’s dad.