Infant’s death ruled an accident

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NAUGATUCK — The death of an infant in apartment 1R at 20 Diamond St. in April was the result of the girl’s mother rolling over on her in her sleep.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has updated the death certificate for baby Nyalise Curtin and ruled that her death on April 22 was an accident. The girl was 1 month, 12 days old.

The death certificate, on file at the Naugatuck Town Clerk’s Office, states that the cause of death was “overlaying,” and states that an adult’s leg rolled over the baby’s body while the mother and baby were co-sleeping. The certificate names the parents as Michael Curtin and Heather Brown.

The Naugatuck Police Department had been investigating the case with the help of the Connecticut State Police Major Crimes Squad for months as they awaited autopsy and other reports. A police spokesman could not be reached for comment Tuesday about the case and therefore it could not be confirmed whether the case is closed.

Co-sleeping is a controversial practice in which a parent sleeps side by side with an infant in an adult bed. While there are advocacy groups who support co-sleeping as a way to bond with a child and say it’s safe when practiced properly, most experts oppose co-sleeping and warn that it can lead to suffocation.

The Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate and the Connecticut Child Fatality Review Panel talked extensively about the dangers of co-sleeping in a study released in April called: “Alert: Unsafe Sleep Related Deaths are the Leading Cause of Preventable Deaths of Infants in Connecticut.”

The study found that the number of Connecticut infants who died between 2001 and 2013 where unsafe sleep conditions were present was almost three times the number of infants who died from child abuse.

“Infants in Connecticut are more likely to die from unsafe sleeping conditions than from child abuse, car accidents, choking, drowning, falls or any other source of accidental injury,” the study states.

It states that in 2013, 23 infants died of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or where the cause was labeled undetermined. Of those, 18 infants had risk factors associated with their sleep environment, many of which included co-sleeping, the study states.

“While many of us have heard messages regarding safe sleep and ‘back to sleep,’ very few are aware how often infants in Connecticut die from unsafe sleep conditions,” Sarah Eagan, child advocate for the state of Connecticut and co-chair of the Child Fatality Review Panel wrote in the report. “Barely a month goes by where our Child Fatality Panel doesn’t review a tragic case of preventable infant death. We must shout this message from the rooftops.”