Report: St. Joseph Co. has higher rate of infant and child deaths than most of the country

St. Joseph County has higher rate of infant and child deaths than most of the country. // WSBT 22 Photo

It's a parent's worst nightmare, putting your baby to sleep and later finding them no longer breathing.

That's why the St. Joseph County "Child Fatality Review Team" is looking at cases of infant and child deaths.

The group wants to keep kids safe.

The teams' mission is to examine these deaths, find patterns and hopefully stop them from happening again.

Falling asleep with your baby cradled in your arms can be a precious moment that parents cherish forever, but it can also be deadly.

"You have to understand things that use to work don't always mean there a good thing to do,” said Dr. Tom Soisson, pediatrician.

The St. Joseph County Child Fatality Review Team is trying to discourage parents from co-sleeping, because of the danger it poses to the infant.

Co-sleeping is not the only risk the group wants to highlight because according to a new report, the county has a higher rate of infant and child deaths than most of the country.

"What we know is that in every case that there was a risk factor it was potentially preventable and why would we not try to eliminate that whenever possible,” said Soisson.

Last year there were 27 infant deaths in St. Joseph County.

More than half were due to complications of prematurity and ten were the results of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death.

In eight of those cases the manner of death was undetermined and in two the cause was accidental asphyxia.

"There are recommendations made about babies sleeping on a firm bed, on their back, without blankets, without toys and by themselves. And in these cases those safety things were not done correctly,” said Dr. Tom Felger, Child Fatality Review Team chairman.

For children one to 18-years-old, the report also found 14 deaths in 2017. Five suffered injuries from car crashes, one was a suicide, there was one homicide by gun shot and seven accidental or related to medical issues.

Experts says Hope is that caregivers will chose to "stay close, but sleep apart."

Again experts do not recommend co-sleeping.

They say the best thing to do is put babies to sleep by themselves, in a firm bed with no blankets or toys.

It could mean the difference between life and death.

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