Preemie baby dies at home - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Preemie baby dies at home

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January 3, 2008

Albany -- A five day old baby was found dead in her parents' bed Thursday morning, and now investigators are trying to figure out what killed her.

The mother realized her newborn wasn't breathing just after nine this morning, but investigators don't yet know if co-sleeping is what caused the infant's death.

A balloon celebrating five-day old Th-Maya Elizabeth Walker's birth still hangs on the North Jackson Street house. Outside family member console each other.

"This child was not breathing. It was subsequently learned that this child was found dead on arrival," said Assistant Dougherty District Attorney Christopher Cohilas.

The baby was sleeping in the bed with her mother Mary Ellen Barnes. She was born December 29th and a month prematurely.

"The child was merely five days old and we do know that the child was approximately one month premature," said Cohilas.

Pediatricians discourage co-sleeping. "Strength is not there, they can't push you out of the way, they can't turn their heads a lot of times, even just neck strength in a newborn is very small," said Dr. Stacy Evans of Southwest Georgia Pediatrics. 

Blankets can also be a danger. "Sometimes in a softer bed if for some reason the infant were rolled over onto their stomach if there's a really soft comforter or something like that, the child may get their head down in the comforter they may not even be able to get their head up out of the comforter to breathe," Evans said.

Investigators say they're awaiting autopsy result to know more, but hope other mothers will hear the warnings from pediatricians and think twice before putting babies in the bed with them.

Both parents, Mary Ellen Barnes and Thurmond Walker, Junior, were questioned about the baby's death's and no charges have been filed.

Just three months ago a three month old South Dougherty County girl died as she slept in her father's bed. The District Attorney's office says that case was ruled an accidental death.

From July of 2006 to July of 2007, the District Attorney's office had seven child deaths in Dougherty County. Five of those deaths required further investigation.

One was a strangulation, suicide, three were unexplained sudden infant death syndrome cases, one was ruled sudden infant death syndrome, and the last remains an undetermined death.

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