Loresha Wilson Mar. 5, 2011There's probably nothing sweeter than the image of a baby drifting off to sleep — be it in your arms or lying next to you. But these innocent moments can turn tragic when you fall asleep with the baby.
Local authorities say that's likely what happened to four babies who died in Shreveport homes in February. The infants, ages 22 days to 8 months, were found unconscious and not breathing after falling asleep next to someone.
The exact cause of each death has yet to be determined, but Caddo Parish Coroner Dr. Todd Thoma says all appear to be instances of co-sleeping. It ultimately resulted in suffocation.
However, detailed investigations are under way in all the deaths.
"This is an unfortunate problem in our community," Thoma said. "It occurs when the infant sleeps in the same bed as their parents. Whether the infant is moved, or the parent rolls over on the baby, it still results in positional asphyxia."
The first baby was found about 2 a.m. Feb. 16 at a residence in the 3500 block of Sumner Street, according to police reports. About two hours later, officers responded to the 1400 block of West 58th Street, where an 8-month-old was found deceased. The third baby died the morning of Feb. 23 at a residence in the 3100 block of West Caperton Street. And about 4 a.m. Feb. 26, a 2-month-old was found dead in the 1400 block of Claiborne Avenue, according to reports.
Criminal charges in these cases are rare, occurring most often when the parent at fault is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When substance abuse is not involved, the deaths are often ruled accidental by police or local district attorney's offices.
"And at this time, we do no suspect foul play," said Sgt. Bill Goodin, spokesman for Shreveport police.
Louisiana has the highest infant mortality rate in the nation — nearly twice the national average, according to Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
One reason this is happening is that some mistakes are being made when it comes to the environment in which children are sleeping. The term "infant mortality" refers to all infant deaths before age one, excluding miscarriages and abortions.
Louisiana had an average of 71 infants die from SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, from 2003 to 2005, according to statistics provided by the Department of Health and Hospitals. During the same three years, the state had an average of 17 infants die of suffocation