Missouri Sees Alarming Trend in Child Fatalities

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – An alarming trend in child fatalities related to sleep related infant suffocation and fentanyl poisoning has been identified in the Missouri Child Fatality Review Program Annual Report for 2022.

In 2022, of all infants who died from non-medical causes, 74% were related to the infant’s sleep environment. Accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed is the leading cause of infant injury deaths. In 2022, 79 infants died from sleep related suffocation, that is a 22% increase from 2021.

Parents and caregivers can promote safe sleep by following the ABCs of safe sleep – alone, back, crib. There should be nothing in the crib except for the infant and a fitted sheet. The crib should not contain any toys or soft bedding such as blankets, bumper pads, or pillows. To learn more about safe sleep visit safesleep.mo.gov.

In addition to rise in safe sleep fatalities, Missouri saw a shocking trend in deaths from poisonings, specifically related to Fentanyl.

In 2022, the deaths of 43 children were linked to Fentanyl or Fentanyl mixed with other drugs. Of those, 20 were between the ages of 15 and 17, while 20 were under age 5. The overall number of Fentanyl related child deaths nearly doubled, with deaths for children under age 5 increasing by more than 500%.

In response, the CFRP State Panel is organizing a fentanyl subcommittee to take a deep dive across the executive state departments and make recommendations around preventing these tragedies, and how Missouri can amplify those efforts.

Child fatalities due to unsafe sleep and fentanyl are both 100% preventable.

The State CFRP panel is made up of members from child protection disciplines who have the opportunity to respond immediately to an identified risk or circumstance by means of further investigation, providing services and initiating prevention strategies.