(Posted April 4, 2022)
The death of a child is one of the most painful experiences in life. Parents and community leaders want to see the children in Madison County experience healthy, happy and long lives. Unfortunately, children die across Ohio every year. Recognizing the need to better understand why children die, the Ohio General Assembly mandated Child Fatality Review (CFR) boards in each of Ohio’s counties in order to review the deaths of children under 18 years of age. CFR boards have been meeting across Ohio since 2000.
Each year, approximately 1,500 children die in Ohio. About one-third of these deaths are likely preventable. Ohio established a CFR program to better understand how and why children die and to take action to prevent other child deaths. By law, the CFR Board law requires the health commissioner to convene the CFR board annually. The board includes representatives from the county coroner, law enforcement, children services, public health, mental health and recovery board, and a pediatric or family physician.
In Madison County, the CFR board meets in March and compiles nearly 24 pages of data on each child death in the county. The board met on March 18 this year to review six deaths of Madison County children under the age of 18. Ages of the children who died ranged from 3 days old to 12 years old. Based on the review of the deaths, the board made the following recommendations to expectant mothers, parents, grandparents, and caregivers of children:
1. Create a safe sleep environment for babies to greatly reduce the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). You should not co-sleep with your infant. Babies should sleep on their back, in a crib, with nothing in the crib with them except a tight-fitting mattress sheet (no bumpers, toys, stuffed animals, blankets or pillows).
2. Postnatal fatigue is normal, but it does affect everyday functioning. Fatigue can lead to poor concentration or memory, decreased breast milk supply, depression/anxiety, and mood swings. Don’t be shy asking for help from friends or relatives to hold the baby while you nap. Friends and family members may also be willing to help at night with diaper changes and feedings so parents can get restful sleep. Taking care of yourself will help you and the baby.
3. Family members and friends should speak up when new parents need support. This can be offering to help with daily tasks like grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning or taking overnight care duties of the baby. Also, speak up to new parents on infant safety and the potential consequences of parental fatigue and sharing the bed with the baby. If you have serious concerns about the safety of a child, please report to County Protective Services at (740) 852-4770.
4. Often, parents feel the pressure of being perfect, especially new moms. The high expectations can lead to guilt, stress, lowered self-esteem and fatigue and can eventually lead to parental burnout. As parents, it is OK to ask for help and discuss issues you encounter. Celebrate small successes and acknowledge overcoming parent obstacles.