A statewide report says in 2022, Missouri had an increase in sleep-related infant suffocation and fentanyl-related deaths among children.

The Missouri Child Fatality Review Program report says 79 Missouri babies died from sleep related suffocation – a 22% increase from 2021.

“Losing even one infant to a preventable cause is tragic,” said Robert Knodell, director of the Missouri Department of Social Services. “We recognize that parenting an infant can be stressful and overwhelming. Parents are often looking for any way they can to sooth their child, however, it is imperative they understand that not following the ABCs of safe sleep is dangerous and can be potentially fatal for their child.”

The ABCs of safe sleep are alone, back, crib. The department says there should be nothing in the crib except for the infant and a fitted sheet. The crib should not contain any toys or soft bedding such as blankets, bumper pads, or pillows.

The annual report says in 2022, the deaths of 43 children were linked to fentanyl or fentanyl mixed with other drugs. Of those, 20 were between the ages of 15 and 17, while 20 were under age 5. The overall number of fentanyl related child deaths nearly doubled, with deaths for children under age 5 increasing by more than 500%.

“As children become mobile and enter a phase of development where they are explorers of their environments it is especially important for caregivers to make sure that all medications and substances are locked up and out of reach,” said Dr. Terra Frazier, associate program director, Child Abuse Pediatrics Fellowship Program at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and Chair of the State Child Abuse and Neglect Review Panel. “Many caregivers underestimate what children will find and put in their mouth.”

In response, the State Child Abuse and Neglect Review Panel is organizing a fentanyl subcommittee to review the state departments and make recommendations that are aimed at preventing these deaths.

To view the report, click here.

Copyright 2023, Missourinet.