SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KSDK) - The number of child deaths in Illinois skyrocketed in 2012, with neglect and abuse cases as the leading causes of death according to the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services.
The deaths caused by neglect were most often associated with suffocation, resulting in 40 deaths caused by unsafe sleeping conditions.
Most of the deaths occurred when parents did not heed the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics and safety experts, rolling onto an infant while sleeping in the same bed or using inappropriate sleeping materials.
"The death of any child is heartbreaking, and even more so when that death may have been avoided if parents had just followed the warnings of their doctor," said DCFS spokesperson Dave Clarkin. "We hope that other parents will learn from these losses and heed the warnings of experts."
Homicides resulting from abuse were the second leading cause of death reported to the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services, claiming 22 lives in all.
In many of these cases there were clear warning signs of abuse, but the information was never reported to authorities.
"Two-thirds of the reports to our hotline come from mandated reporters like prosecutors, police, hospital staff and teachers," says Clarkin. "To protect kids, DCFS needs to be contacted for help before there is a 911 call, a child is in the emergency room or the abuse or neglect has been going on for years."