Leading Cause of Death in Illinois Children is Suffocation

A Chicago news story said that in 2012 in the state of Illinois, child deaths increased, with suffocation as the leading cause, according to an analysis by the Department of Children and Family Services.

There were 90 child deaths as a result of neglect or abuse in Illinois in 2012 and more than 60 are still under investigation. Sixty-nine percent of those children were not even one-year-old.

Forty of those deaths, or 44 percent, were the result of suffocation, mostly from unsafe sleeping conditions. Most deaths occurred when parents allowed their newborn or child to sleep in their bed and rolled over onto the baby, causing the suffocation of him or her. Other causes for suffocation included when caregivers allowed babies to sleep with a blanket, on their stomachs, or on an adult mattress or couch.

By Illinois law, even though these children’s death may have been accidental, the parents and caretakers are still held responsible for creating a substantial risk of injury or death to a child.

DCFS Spokesperson Dave Clarkin said, “The death of any child is heartbreaking, and even more so when that death may have been avoided if the parents had just followed the warnings of their doctor,” about the deaths. “We hope that other parents will learn from these loses and heed the warnings of experts.”

The second leading cause of death for Illinois children in 2012 was homicides, or deaths caused by intentional abuse or injury. Twenty-two of the 2012 child deaths were the result of homicide. Evidence in many of those cases showed that people close to the family had seen warning signs of abuse but did not report them to authorities.

These warning signs can include previous physical abuse or neglect, patterns of domestic violence, and drug use or heavy drinking while caring for children.

Clarkin shared that about two-thirds of the reports that go to the DCFS hotline are from mandated reporters like teachers, prosecutors, police, and hospital staff. “To protect kids, DCFS needs to be contacted for help before there is a 911 call, a child is in the emergency room or the abuse or neglect has been going on for years.”

If your family is having trouble with abuse or neglect or have been falsely accused of it, contact a family law attorney in Illinois to work through the issues. Sullivan, Taylor, & Gumina, P.C. attorneys can help you fix your family problems today.