ECPO: Prevent infant deaths

NEWARK, NJ — Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino announced Oct. 4 that the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office is urging parents to take proper precautions to protect children in the wake of three baby deaths over a 40-hour period the previous week.

Parents should avoid sleeping with very young children and make sure they have cribs or bassinets.

“In a 40-hour period there were three baby deaths in Essex County. We are awaiting final autopsy results in each case to determine the cause and manner of death but given what we know right now we are urging parents to take simple steps to protect their children,” Laurino said in a press release.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the following basic steps can make a big difference: Make sure the baby is sleeping on his or her back and sleeping alone. Keep blankets, stuffed animals and other items away from the sleeping area. Make sure the baby is on a firm surface. Bring the baby into your bedroom, but not into your bed.

“Babies who sleep in the bed with the parents are at increased risk for SIDs and SUDs, suffocation or strangulation. Parents or siblings may accidentally roll over on the baby,” Laurino said, noting that the three incidents do not appear to be criminal but are very troubling.

On Monday, Sept. 26, a 26-day old baby died in Belleville. At this time, the death appears to be a medical incident.

On Saturday, Sept. 23, an 11-day old baby died in East Orange. In the East Orange case the parents reported that the baby was in the bed with them. Both parents fell asleep and when they woke up the baby was unresponsive. The baby boy was rushed to University Hospital where he was pronounced dead. There are two other children in the family.

The third case also occurred on Saturday, Sept. 23. In that case, Newark Police responded to a 9-1-1 call for an unresponsive female infant. The mother was actively performing CPR when they arrived. The girl baby was pronounced at Newark Beth Israel. The preliminary investigation indicates the mother put the baby on a futon after feeding the child. When she woke up the baby was on the futon with an older sibling, a 2-year old daughter. It’s unclear at this time when the 2-year-old climbed onto the futon.

Final autopsy results, particularly toxicology results, have not been completed. The preliminary autopsies indicate these children were not the victims of trauma.

“While the investigations in all three cases remain open, we felt it was important to remind parents of the dangers of sleeping with infants or keeping infants on sofas surfaces.

We further wanted to remind parents that there are resources in the community to obtain cribs and bassinets which are designed for young infants,” Laurino said.