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November 3, 2003
more on evil.

Since my Halloween post, I've developed a micro-obsession in figuring out how children really get hurt. I've been looking at the CDC, the FBI, the NIH, the NICHD, the CPSC, etc. At first I thought this would be gruesome and offputting, but it's all numbers and acronyms. So clinical and somehow intriguing.

Now I'm going to be like my friend, Becky, who is a physical anthropologist who did forensics for a while. She was always well dressed, nails done, and so on, but get her to a cocktail party and all she could talk about was hacking up dead people.

But did you know that homicide is the leading killer of newborns?

The research is still not done, but today I'll tell you what I learned about babies less than a year and how they die or are injured. That's bright and uplifting for Monday morning, isn't it?

  • homicide 22.6% of deaths due to non-natural causes. Usually perpetrated by the mother in the first few days of life, after that, it's more likely to be the significant male. Strangulation, suffocation.

  • suffocation 17% of deaths. Babies should be put on their backs to sleep without pillows, comforters or stuffed animals. They shouldn't be anywhere they can get their little heads stuck -- like between the bed and the wall or in the sofa cushions.

  • motor vehicle accidents 15% of deaths. Use carseats always and correctly.

Those are the big three for infants. After that it's fire, drowning, choking on food, choking on objects and "other".


Injuries and fatalities can and do occur close to home and on local streets. Child may be in infant seat until they are about 26 inches long and 20 pounds (some differences between manufacturers), then they should continue to sit rear-facing in a larger seat until the first birthday. Children should be belted with a five-point harness, front facing, from their first birthday until they are 4 years and 40 pounds (some say 3 and 30), then they should sit in a booster seat until they are 6 years and 60 pounds (by California law), or 8 and 80 pounds by safety recommendation. When a regular seatbelt fits across the hips not the waist and the shoulder strap goes across the shoulder and midchest, children can sit without a booster. The seatbelt should not go under the arm or behind the back. They should not ride in the front seat until they are 12.


As far as injuries to babies go (aside from motor vehicle accidents):

  • 1. Falls from carseat or carrier. If you are carrying your baby around in the bucket, put the seat belt on her! Dropping the whole thing results in injury, but I imagine more and worse injuries happen from an unsecured baby sliding out of the baby-bucket onto the ground.

  • 2. Falls from the crib.

  • 3. Playpens. Suffocating in blankets, getting hung from clothing on parts that stick out, playpens collapsing and hurting child.

Other dangers: Balloons, walkers, hot dogs...

05:56 AM
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