Safe sleeping conditions a focus as county reviews child deaths

Photo: Seth Baur / CC BY 2.0 via MGN, file

Kern County health officials took an in-depth look at how children in our area are dying.

In 2016, 117 kids died in Kern County. The report investigated 42 of those deaths.

"Our children are our most valued asset in our community, (and) we want to do everything we can to protect them," said Russell Hasting, a supervising public health nurse who chairs the Child Death Review Team.

Last year, seven infants died because of unsafe sleeping conditions.

"Seven is seven too many," he said. "We want all those numbers to be zero."

Twelve infants died because of unsafe sleeping conditions the year before.

These deaths are still preventable. The way to avoid these tragedies is simply to put your baby to sleep in their own crib, laying on their back with nothing they can choke or suffocate on.

A lot of parents don't know they're putting their baby in danger.

"The circumstances don't lend itself to being safe, and it is tragic, and these parents, I can not image the feeling that they have of loss," said Hasting.

The point of this report is to bring awareness to the issue of avoidable child deaths and to work to stop it. It also focuses on child abuse and drowning deaths.

October is Safe Sleep Awareness Month. If you don't have a safe sleeping environment available for your child, you can call (661) 321-3000 to connect to resources.

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