Everyday I receive updates on important cases our staff have worked on. Yesterday, I received notice of a one year old who ingested about 40 methadone tablets. When officers arrived at the home the child was losing consciousness. He was quickly transported to the hospital and was in critical condition yesterday. Reading about the incident triggered some memories.
We have infant and toddler deaths all too often. These deaths are caused by accident, natural causes or are the result of a homicide. We've had a few infants accidentally suffocated by sleeping parents over the last year or two. Last summer we had a 15 month old hang himself in a playpen after getting tangled in the blind strings that were dangling into the pen. There's been a few accidental drownings. I could go on...
I remember the first toddler death I was involved with vividly. It was 1994 and I had been an officer for almost two years and until this thought I had seen a fair amount of tragedy in that short time. This 911 call involved a 16 month old boy who went to sleep and never woke up. When his father went to check on him at midnight he had died. Arriving second to a volunteer firefighter, I helped perform CPR unsuccessfully on the little guy.
The next day my shift commander called me at home and told me since I had not yet attended an autopsy, I had to attend that of the little boy. Watching the autopsy that day is something I will never forget. I am glad I did not have kids at that time because, while this case was disturbing and very sad, I find with young kids of my own now I am much more bothered by child deaths. When each of my kids hit 16 months old they both had the fine hair and baby soft skin just like that little boy who died. Needless to say I checked on my kids almost every hour, on the hour during their 16th month of life. I guess that experience and five other baby/toddler death calls I've been on make me a little paranoid about some things.
While there are some deaths we can't prevent, there are many more we can. Nursing moms should not sleep with their infants. Keep blind cords well above where kids can reach them. Watch your young children at all times when they are the water. Don't keep extra blankets and soft sleeping material in an infants crib. Most importantly, have your infant sleep on their back.