Infant Death from Weighted Blanket at Childcare Center
August 21, 2014, is a date that forever changed the lives of parents whose infant son died from the misuse of a weighted blanket at his daycare center. This tragic wrongful death at daycare does shed light on a practice that some parents and daycare providers practice that can have deadly results. In Webster Grove, Missouri, a 7-month-old infant was found dead under a weighted blanket.
What is a Weighted Blanket and What is it Used For?
A weighted blanket is a blanket that has items such as beans, flaxseed, poly pellets, or other items sewn between the fabric. Some blankets are a DIY home project, while others are prescribed or obtained from medical equipment vendors.
For some adults or special needs individuals, a weighted blanket has been said to calm the anxious and distressed. Recommendations by some healthcare providers suggested that this blanket is beneficial for adults who suffer from medical conditions like night terrors, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, or restless leg syndrome. Some medical providers encourage the use of such a blanket with children.
In the case of children, it is often due to the child suffering from sensory processing issues, as do autistic children and others with special needs.
Weighted Blanket Child Death at Childcare Center
In the Webster Groves incident, the daycare provider used a white noise machine and weighted blanket while the 7-month infant napped. While napping, the child rolled onto his abdomen. The child’s position and the added weight placed on him by the weighted blanket led to his premature death. The blanket used was 4 pounds, 8 ounces. In addition to using the blanket, the daycare admitted to not checking up on the child after he fell asleep. Had this occurred, the child may have been helped by re-positioning him.
What Parents Should Know About Weighted Blankets
While the use of a weighted blanket may be prescribed for a child with special needs, most websites selling the product or addressing the use of this item for a special needs child carry a weighted blanket warning. All children do not have the same sensory integration needs. They should be used under the advice and direction of a licensed therapist or a medical professional. They should also be used while under adult supervision. Another website, National Autism Resources, states that each therapeutic blanket is designed and tested by an occupational therapist to ensure that the weight is evenly distributed across the body to maximize comfort.
Dangers of Weighted Blankets for Children
Why these advisory weighted blanket warnings? A medical provider needs to take into consideration the age, height, and weight of the individual so that the weighted blanket is best suited to the size of the person using it. Weighted blankets and their weight distribution are also a concern for medical providers. As seen in the case of this infant, if a weighted blanket is too heavy, an infant can suffocate or can be at a heightened risk to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Parents expect that their daycare providers will provide reasonable supervision while the children are in their possession, both when the children are awake or asleep. Both parents and daycare providers recognize that infants are at risk of either injury or death while napping. Infants are at a greater risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, suffocation, or asphyxiation.
Cribs at daycare centers should be free of objects that could present a choking or suffocation hazard to the infant. Daycare providers should consult with parents before using devices such as a weighted blanket on a child when such an item has not been specifically authorized or provided by a medical professional and/or provided by the parent themselves.
The Importance of Legal Assistance
The sudden loss and weighted blanket death of a child alter the lives of families forever. I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento wrongful death lawyer. I have worked with many grieving families after the loss of their child. My website provides some resources that can help families with the grieving process.
If you have lost your child because of a weighted blanket death and believe you have a wrongful death claim, please feel free to call or visit me to discuss the matter. You can call our wrongful death law firm at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for compassionate, free, and friendly legal advice online now.
To view past verdicts and settlements, click here.
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