Keeping The Smallest Hoosiers Safe

In 2011, Indiana welcomed 83,750 baby Hoosiers. Thousands of families began the daily exercise of worrying about whether their little one was healthy and happy, well fed, well educated, and well adjusted. For some parents, this natural concern would continue for decades. Sadly, for others, their worries were more acute, ending in their infant’s tragically early death.

Dr. William C. VanNess II, Indiana’s State Health Commissioner, said last year, “Indiana is horrible at infant mortality. Horrible. We are 47th out of 50 states.” Since September is Baby Safety Month, having been so designated by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association back in 1991, this is an appropriate time to take a look at Indiana’s problem of infant mortality.

Dr. VanNess has established four top priority areas for improving the health of Indiana residents, and the No. 1 priority is to reduce infant mortality. Currently, Indiana’s infant mortality rate is 7.7 deaths per 1,000 infants, which is higher than the national rate of 7.0 deaths per 1,000 infants. The state aims to reduce the rate to 7.3 deaths by 2015 and 6.89 in 2016.

Nationally, more than half of infant deaths are attributable to these five leading causes:

  1. Birth defects
  2. Low birthweight and prematurity
  3. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  4. Maternal complications of pregnancy
  5. Unintentional injuries.

It is No. 5 on the above list that is of greatest concern to personal injury attorneys. According to the CDC, more than 9,000 children aged 0 to 19 died from injuries in the U.S. in 2009 – from things such as car crashes, suffocation, drowning, poisoning, fires, and falls. In many cases, the grieving families turn to personal injury lawyers to seek some measure of justice and compensation for the expenses they face due to another person’s or company’s negligence.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is an independent agency of the United States government, created in 1972 through the Consumer Product Safety Act. In December 2013, the CPSC released a report about injuries and deaths associated with nursery products, some of the causes of those unintentional injuries. In the three-year period of 2008 to 2010, the CPSC logged reports of 333 deaths among children under age five which were associated with nursery products.

Based on CPSC data, these are the products new parents should be most concerned about:

  • Cribs/mattresses. About 43 percent of the reported infant deaths due to a nursery product were associated with cribs/mattresses. Sometimes, the deaths were attributed to the presence of extra bedding in the crib, which led to asphyxiation of the infant. In other cases, the cribs were hazardous due to faulty design or construction. There were also deaths resulting from nearby cords or strings and suffocations from plastic bags located in close proximity to the crib.
  • Bassinets/cradles accounted for 18 percent of the reported deaths, primarily because of extra bedding such as pillows.
  • Playpens/play yards were associated with 12 percent of the infant deaths, again mostly because they suffocated on extra bedding placed inside the play yard. Other hazards were the use of improvised covers, easy access to cords from window coverings, and faulty construction.
  • Infant carriers/car seat carriers were associated with 11 percent of the reported deaths. The most common cause was strangulation resulting from infants becoming entangled in the restraint straps.
  • Baby baths/bath seats/bathinettes accounted for five percent of the reported deaths, all of which occurred because the infant was left unattended.
  • The remaining reported fatalities were associated with a range of products, including bouncer seats, portable swings, and baby gates/barriers, among others.

The months with the highest birth rates in the U.S. are August, September and October. Presumably, the months with the highest infant injury rates would be over the next six months or so. If you or a family member experiences the tragedy of an infant’s injury or death, call the Indianapolis product injury lawyers at McNeely Stephenson. When others breach their duty, we keep ours. Phone 1-855-206-2555 for a compassionate, conscientious evaluation of your potential claim.