D.C. health director alarmed after six infants die in one week

WASHINGTON (WJLA) – District health officials are concerned, following the death of six infants in the last week. Currently, there is an average of six infant deaths per month in the city.

D.C. Health Director Dr. Joxel Garcia says while there is no single pattern to the recent baby deaths and they have occurred in different parts of the city, it is alarming.

“We are going to investigate all the cases; we are working with the Office of the Medical Examiner, but we also today decided that I don’t want to wait for the review,” Dr. Garcia said. “We will activate our team to investigate that.”

Of the six deaths, two resulted from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and two were from premature births. The causes of the other two deaths are still unknown.

Dr. Garcia says SIDS and premature deaths should not happen in 2014. Jamie Brown, a mother who lives in the Sursum Corda Cooperative, knows this first hand. Her premature 2-year-old, Tony, wouldn’t have made it years ago. Her oldest child almost didn’t make it; Brown says she kept him in the bed with her and rolled over on him.

“I heard him crying,” she said. “I woke up and got him, but, yeah, that’s the first thing—you should never sleep with an infant in your bed.”

Brown says she’s learned her lesson and Dr. Garcia says similar incidents are a big problem in the District.

“That should not happen, because if you fall asleep, especially in summertime, that baby is going to be asphyxiated,” Dr. Garcia said. “It’s a tragedy.”

Dr. Garcia says it is important for those in the District to pay attention to this spike in baby deaths. Back in 2000, D.C. averaged 13.5 deaths per 1,000 births, which dropped to 7.4 in 2012—a 45 percent decline.

“You gotta be more careful with your infants,” Brown said.

Dr. Garcia wants to work with everyone to heighten awareness of the District baby deaths, saying six infant deaths in one week are too many.