COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Muscogee Coroner Bill Thrower says he is concerned.
"The infant deaths that I've seen over the past 7 years seem to be on an increase to me. If we don't start now, looking into this problem that I think is growing, we're going to find ourselves in a position that we don't want to be in," he told News Leader 9.
And the numbers speak for themselves.
In 2006 and 2007 there were 27 child deaths in Muscogee County
In 2008, 23.
Then, in 2009 the number sky-rocketed to 32.
As for 2010, we're only four months in and the coroner has already handled 11 deaths of children under the age of 17.
And they're not cases of abuse or neglect. He says most of the deaths were the result of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Syndrome and accidents- many of which officials say could have been prevented.
When it comes to keeping your kids safe, health officials say there are simple things you can do.
For example, when you put your baby to sleep they say you should remove any stuffed animals, pillows or soft bedding from the crib and put your baby on their back to sleep on top of a firm mattress.
When it comes to the crib itself, make sure you can't fit a soda can in between the crib slats.
"You should try to prevent co-sleeping. That means that the child needs to be in their own sleep area, their own crib," explained Jacquetta Jackson, Training Specialist for Safe Kids Columbus.
"You never know who they may have been as an adult- what they could have done for the society in general, what they could have done for the whole world," Thrower added.
With summer right around the corner, the Thrower is also trying to prevent accidental drownings among children.
He reminds parents that kids should never be unattended around water no matter how good of a swimmer they may be.
Health officials are urging parents to go through their homes and "baby-proof" them as much as possible.
Here is some more information from Safe Kids Columbus, the local group that works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children 14 and under.
SIDS and SUIDS
Safe Kids Columbus is pleased to be an active partner in the Coroner's office efforts to reduce infant mortality in Muscogee County.
Our organization currently focuses on preventing childhood injuries in children ages 14 and under by offering community education in the areas of motor-vehicle safety, bike safety, water safety, home safety, and pedestrian safety.
Safe Sleep Tips for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS):
• Remove pillows, soft bedding and toys out of your baby's crib.
• Put your baby "back to sleep" (face up) on a firm mattress.
• Make sure you can't fit a soda can between the crib slats.
• Make sure the crib's corner posts are the same height as the end panels.
• Keep bed, cribs and other furniture away from windows so kids can't climb up.
• Don't allow smoking around your baby
• Keep your baby's sleep area close to, but separate from, where you and others sleep.
Where can you find Recall information?
-U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
For Safe Sleep brochure and pamphlets, and door hangers, call Safe Kids at 706-321-6183.