DCFS numbers show infant deaths on the rise in Illinois

JEFFERSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - Illinois is looking at a record year of child abuse and neglect deaths and a Department of Children and Family Services analysis shows the most prevalent cause may surprise you.

"Illinois is looking at a record year of abuse and neglect deaths," said DCFS Spokesman Dave Clarkin. "When we looked at the data one of the prevailing causes was suffocation due to unsafe sleep."

According to DCFS, 40 babies died due to unsafe sleep conditions. It was the leading cause of child deaths in Illinois for 2012. Clarkin says of the 40, the majority were the result of parents cuddling up to baby to sleep; an act doctors warn against.

"When you're bed sharing, the infant is in an adult bed which is a softer mattress with lots of blankets and pillows, increasing the risk of pocketed gas and adults rolling over onto the kids and physically suffocating them," said Dr. Kurt Martin.

"If mom's 130 pounds, and rolls over on a seven or eight pound baby the child doesn't have a prayer," said Jefferson County Coroner Eddie Joe Marks. "The odds of an infant dying is 60 percent more likely to happen sleeping with mom and dad than alone in its bed. Sixty percent."

That's a message DCFS hopes the new statistics will help spread statewide to new parents and old ones.

"What we've learned is that it's important for grandparents the mother's mother to understand the risk of sleep deaths," said Clarkin. "So when moms turn to their own mothers for advice, they're hearing the same thing they're hearing from their doctor."

Marks suggests new parents follow the ABC's. Make sure baby sleeps alone, on its back, in a crib.

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