In 2012, 90 Illinois infants and toddlers died of unnatural causes. Another 60 deaths are still under investigation.
According to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, child deaths skyrocketed last year, and show little signs of slowing.
David Clarkin, Spokesperson for the DCFS says "for the 90 cases that have been indicated so far from 2012, an overwhelming number of them resulted from the suffocation of a child during sleep."
Many of these are accidents are caused by parents sleeping next to their babies. But sometimes, the child dies while sleeping alone.
"A sizable number of cases, the child suffocated when it was left on a couch or some other soft sleeping area, rolled over on its face, and was unable to roll back over, or when a child was put to sleep in a crib with a blanket or some other suffocation hazard,"
Kathy Pomahac, Executive Director of the Carrie Lynn Children's Center says in Illinois, parents can be charged for these deaths. Especially when drugs or alcohol are involved. "As parents, we have a responsibility to make sure the environment is safe for our children, and anything we do that would create an unsafe environment would be considered neglect and certainly co-sleeping falls into that category," says Pomahac.
Unlike co-sleeping, the number two cause of death for children is no accident. "In some cases, these are a result of repeated physical abuse, kids that receive serious head injuries or other trauma that result in their death," says Clarkin.
In many cases, family members and friends were aware of the indicators of abuse but never reported it. Both Clarkin and Pomahac say reporting possible cases to the DCFS is the best way to stop it.
"Please be the responsible person for a child's sake and make the phone call," says Pomahac.
The number for the Illinois Child Abuse Hotline is 1-800-25-ABUSE (or 1-800-252-2873.)
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