Sheriff: Death of Lake Charles infant likely an accident - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Sheriff: Death of Lake Charles infant likely an accident

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Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso. (Source: KPLC) Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso. (Source: KPLC)
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

The death of a Lake Charles infant will likely be ruled accidental, authorities said on Wednesday.

Authorities also said that the death was likely 100 percent preventable.

According to the Calcasieu Sheriff's Office, a 6-month-old boy died Tuesday at a home on Sundale Drive.

Calcasieu Parish Corner Dr. Terry Welke said the infant suffocated after getting wedged between a mattress and a wall.

Sheriff's Tony Mancuso said the boy was with a babysitter while his parents were at work.

"I can't say for sure that this is anything other than an accident," Mancuso said. "At this point, it appears to be an accidental death. With that said, we are not finished with our investigation. We have some toxicology reports we want back."

Mancuso called the death a case of negligence but said that only time will tell if that includes criminal negligence.

"We are tasked with taking care of our children. These parents put the trust into someone else," Mancuso said. "They (the babysitters) were negligent in this case. Whether it was criminal negligence or poor care taking, we are going to determine that at some point."

Both Mancuso and Welke spoke about the dangers of putting a sleeping infant in what they called unsafe situations.

"We have had several deaths of children, and a majority of them can be prevented, plain and simple," Mancuso said. "If we don't speak up, these children don't have a voice. We are tired of going on these calls, and he is tired of working on these children."

Welke said children should be placed on a firm mattress like in a crib or bassinet with only a sheet. He said cribs should be free from stuffed animals, extra sheets or anything that could suffocate the child. Children should also sleep alone, Welke said.

"This is a very important topic for our office," Welke said. "Within two days, I have done three autopsies on infants. Two have been natural deaths. Unfortunately, one was an accident and 100 percent preventable."

"Don't put them in bed with you. We have seen cases of infant deaths with too much bedding, people sleeping in the bed, even people putting animals in the infant's bed," Welke said.

 

Preventing SIDS

While there's no guaranteed way to prevent SIDS, the Mayo Clinic said the following measures go a long way toward preventing it:

Breast-feed: Research shows that any amount of breast-feeding reduces the risk of SIDS. The protective effect is strongest if your baby breast-feeds exclusively for the first six months of life.

BACK TO SLEEP: Place your baby to sleep resting on his or her back, rather than on the stomach or side. This isn't necessary when your baby's awake or able to roll over both ways without your help. Don't assume that others will place your baby to sleep in the correct position — insist on it. Advise sitters and child care personnel not to resort to the stomach position to calm an upset baby.

SELECT BEDDING CAREFULLY: Use a firm mattress and avoid placing your baby on thick, fluffy padding, such as lambskin or a thick quilt. These may interfere with breathing if your baby's face presses against them. For the same reason, don't use bumper pads or leave pillows, fluffy toys or stuffed animals in your infant's crib.

DON'T OVERHEAT BABY: To keep your baby warm, try a sleep sack or other sleep clothing that doesn't require additional covers. If you use a blanket, make it lightweight. Tuck the blanket securely at the foot of the crib, with just enough length to cover your baby's shoulders. Then place your baby in the crib, near the foot, covered loosely with the blanket. Don't cover your baby's head.

BABIES SHOULD SLEEP ALONE: Adult beds aren't safe for infants. A baby can become trapped and suffocate between the headboard slats, the space between the mattress and the bed frame, or the space between the mattress and the wall. A baby can also suffocate if a sleeping parent accidentally rolls over and covers the baby's nose and mouth.

OFFER A PACIFIER: Sucking on a pacifier at naptime and bedtime may reduce the risk of SIDS. One caveat — if you're breast-feeding, wait to offer a pacifier until your baby is 1 month old and you've settled into a comfortable nursing routine. If your baby's not interested in the pacifier, try again later. If the pacifier falls out of your baby's mouth while he or she is sleeping, don't pop it back in.

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