Guilford County Child Fatality Prevention Team works to stop infant death

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Guilford County, N.C. -- When a parent faces the loss of a child, the Guilford County Child Fatality Prevention Team is behind the scenes working to figure out what happened.

"We're really combing through those records to see what we could do differently in the future and prevent those deaths," explained Leigha Jordan, team member and Injury Prevention Coordinator at Moses Cone Hospital.

The prevention team is made up of a couple dozen professionals from disciplines like mental health, law enforcement, healthcare, advocacy organizations and first responders.

"We're looking for systems issues we're looking at communication between agencies we're looking at gaps in services," said Kim Herzing, a clinical social worker and the chair of the prevention team.

In 2015, 73 children did not make it to their 18th birthday in Guilford County. 21 of those deaths are deemed preventable.

Herzing says they look specifically at the preventable deaths to see what went wrong.

"We have a lot of different reasons of children dying but the big one that is preventable is the sharing the same bed space," Herzing said.

Herzing says kids under the age of four are at risk because they are sleeping in an unsafe crib or in their parent's bed.

The deaths of nine children in 2015 were classified as "undetermined." Herzing says this means they most likely died as a result of where and how they were sleeping.

Herzing says babies should sleep alone in a crib without a baby blanket, stuffed animals or any kind of bumpers near them.

The team also looks at the circumstances surrounding homicides, suicides, car accidents, drownings and bike accidents to determine where a breakdown happened.

They they take their findings to county agencies, law enforcement and health professionals to make changes to safety standards, education and outreach techniques.

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