Friday, 17 July 2009
02:26:08 PM (GMT)
At least 170 children have died in the past year while sleeping with parents or an
older child, a number that far surpasses drowning, long thought to be a leading cause
of accidental child deaths, according to statistics released Wednesday by Texas Child
"That translates to one child dying every other day," said Patrick Crimmins, CPS
After years of hearing anecdotes from CPS caseworkers and paramedics about such
deaths, the agency instructed investigators to begin collecting data on these types
of child deaths. Any time a child was believed to have been suffocated while sleeping
— either when an adult or older child rolled over on the smaller child or the child
was pushed against a wall — the child's case was tagged.
Suspected cases were sent to Austin where they were individually reviewed by
investigators. None of the cases were criminally prosecuted because law enforcement
officers found no reason to believe the children died from abuse or intentional
neglect or homicide, Crimmins said.
Texas CPS officials began collecting the information to create a baseline of data
about the problem and to begin bringing the issue to the public's attention.
Two weeks ago, CPS officials updated the computer form used by investigators logging
child deaths to include whether the dead child was found in what authorities call a
Although state officials would not release cause of death information in these
specific cases, which occurred between Sept. 1, 2007, and Aug. 31, 2008, the same
officials acknowledged that the primary danger in a co-sleeping situation is
"We aren't saying how they died," Crimmins said, citing the agency's practice of not
disclosing a dead child's name. "But we are saying they were co-sleeping when they