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Health district conducts "child death review" to help reduce number of deaths

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Last December, the Benton-Franklin Health District reviewed child death cases in our counties-specifically kids under the age of one who died in their sleep.

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- A new study on our local children revealed some disturbing news.

Last December, the Benton-Franklin Health District reviewed child death cases in our counties-specifically kids under the age of one who died in their sleep.

Since the review, two more children in that age range died in our counties.

Now the health district wants parents to know how they're suggesting to reduce that number.

"If we can prevent a tragedy for another family, that's what we want to make happen," said Kathleen Clary-Cooke, a Health Educator for the Benton-Franklin Health District.

That's why the health district does child death reviews.

Child death reviews look over a period of time and try to find things in common between cases, so they can try to reduce deaths.

“We decide on a child death review topic based on the deaths that we're seeing in our area," said Clary-Cooke.

The topic of the most recent review was how many kids under the age of one died in their sleep.

"We were aware of some deaths from 2015, but there were some deaths in 2016 that put it at the top of the list," added Clary-Cooke.

The health district looked at eight children over a two-to-three-year period.

They found one died because the child wasn't placed properly in it's sleeper.

But all the others had something in common.

"What we found in each one of those seven cases is in fact the children were in the parent's bed," said Clary-Cooke.

Officials said being in a parent's bed is dangerous because kids could suffocate or be strangled by accident.

"If you look at sleep deaths- strangulation, suffocation- that's the leading cause of infants in the United States for children under the age of one," said Clary-Cooke.

Officials added that's true here in our counties too.

"When it’s your family, it's the most devastating thing in the world. I hate to reduce this to data and numbers," said Clary-Cooke.

But, they're using the findings to educate parents.

"The research for years has shown us babies need to be sleeping on their backs. They need to be in their own bed with nothing but a crib mattress and a tightly fitting sheet," said Clary-Cooke.

Experts hope this study speaks to parents in our region to hopefully reduce the number of devastating deaths here.

The Benton Franklin Health District said it's also helpful to talk to your pediatrician about the best ways your child should sleep.

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