NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Every day in America a dozen young children die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. For grieving parents it is a mostly unexplained tragedy, but a U.S. Senator from New York says new laws could help provide answers.
Three years ago, Ellen Young’s 21-month-old daughter Casey died while sleeping with no explanation.
“I touched her and she was cold, she was blue. I grabbed her and called 911, but I knew she was gone,” Young said.
On Wednesday, she and other parents who lost children met with U.S. Senator Charles Schumer at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park. Senator Schumer said that the mystery of unexplained infant deaths is only getting worse.
“Across the country there are 4,600 sudden unexplained deaths each year,” Schumer said.
In New York State, the latest figures for 2011 show there were 46 sudden infant deaths, another 61 deaths with no known cause and 17 deaths attributed to accidental suffocation.
“The greatest nightmare of a parent is to have your child taken from you, and it’s double the nightmare when you don’t even have an explanation,” Schumer said.
Senator Schumer is backing new legislation in the Senate to set up a national database so medical experts can try to better pinpoint a cause.
Danna Richardson’s 22-month-old daughter Alex died unexpectedly 8 years ago.
“We got a phone call that said she had pneumonia, and I said ‘that doesn’t sit right with me,’ because she wasn’t sick,” Richardson said.
Sen. Schumer said that a wrong diagnosis is all too common because medical examiners feel they must name a cause.
Greg Spina’s 2-year-old son Ethan died suddenly in 2013, he believes Senate legislation is needed to clear up the confusion.
“We really need protocols and procedures and plans in place to gather date so we can find patterns. That’s the only way we’re going to find out what’s happening,” Spina said.
Spina said if it is genetic a national study could find answers to protect other siblings in these heartbroken families.
The legislation to create a national database has bipartisan support, Schumer said, and will be taken up by the full Senate early next month.
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