Kern county sees average of one suspicious baby death per week

Kern's child death rate is twice national average

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - 2013 is off to a tragic start, averaging one baby death per week this month.

As Lake Isabella reels from 7-month-old baby Sophia-Lynn Taylor's death earlier this month, two more infants died this past weekend.
"It's sad and its tragic for something like this to happen," said a neighbor of one of the infants who did not want to be identified.

The Kern county Child Death Review Team says in 2010 Kern county's child death rate was twice the national average.

Jane Yadon of the review team says child abuse or neglect is often generational, with parents being abused themselves when they were young.

Then there are other reasons.

"We have a high rate of young parents. We have the highest rate of teen pregnancy in Kern county, so you have young, inexperienced kids and that combined with alcohol and drug problems in this county and poverty it sometimes creates a perfect storm for child abuse," said Yadon.

The child death review team says nearly a quarter of child deaths are homicides, about a half are accidental and the rest are undetermined or natural.

Last year five out of six child homicides were of children under age five.

In 2011-six of the eight child homicide deaths were in children under five years old.

"These kids who are under the age of 5 are not in school. They're at home and the only people watching them are their caregivers who may be their abusers," said Yadon.

Yadon says a common misperception is that the abusers are step-parents of boyfriends or girlfriends of the biological parents.

"Anywhere from 60-70% of time its actually the parents either one or more biological parent," said Yadon.

Yadon says people need to report child abuse before its too late.

"We need to catch this before they die. This is just the tip of the iceberg. There's a lot more abuse that goes on where kids don't die, they're near fatalities," said Yadon.

Parents who are on the brink of abusing or neglecting their kids can get help from the Kern County Network For Children or the Department Of Human Services.

If someone is arrested for child abuse, they can face felony charges resulting in prison sentences of 15 years to life or even the death penalty

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