June 8, 2016

Suffocation Deaths: Connecticut's "Distinctive Injury"

A recent WNPR article discusses a John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research study finding that suffocation deaths are Connecticut’s “distinctive injury.” The study analyzed data from 2004-2013 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify one type of injury death in each state that was significantly higher than the national average.  In Connecticut, suffocation deaths were 1.3 times (or 30 percent) higher than the national average.

The study did not examine the causes of Connecticut’s above average suffocation death rate, but the article’s author contacted local sources for possible explanations.  According to the Office of the Child Advocate, 140 infants died between 2002 and 2010 because of unsafe sleep environments, such as infants in bed with adults, older children, or adult pillows and other large items.  Accidental asphyxiation from such practices claims 17 to 23 infants each year, making it the leading cause of death of healthy infants.

In 2015, the legislature addressed infant death by suffocation by requiring hospitals to give new parents information about safe sleep practices.  In addition, Department of Children and Families workers counsel parents about safe sleep practices and distribute "Pack N' Play" cribs to households with inadequate sleeping arrangements.