One parent hopes her tragedy can serve as prevention for future toddler deaths.

By Jenn Sinrich
New Africa/Shutterstock

March 27, 2019

As most parents of toddlers know, they're capable of getting into just about anything. While childproofing your home certainly helps avoid potential pitfalls, it only goes so far to protect a curious and grabby tot from creating a mess or, worse, putting herself in harm's way.

That's why one grieving mom is now speaking out about the horror she experienced upon finding her 18-month-old daughter strangled to death as a result of her baby monitor cord becoming wrapped and tangled around her neck.

The incident occurred in Shipdham, England, last October. Mother Danielle Duggan placed her daughter Jessica in her cot for an afternoon nap and later noticed via her baby monitor that the camera had moved from the shelf it was carefully positioned. When the parents entered the room, they discovered their daughter had managed to get hold of the cord connected to the baby monitor and became entangled in it. After a desperate attempt to untie the cord, the father Jason attempted CPR as the mother phoned an ambulance.

"He was doing it for eight to 10 minutes. I think she had passed by then but he was doing it until the ambulance got there and they took over. It was very, very traumatic as you can imagine," Duggan told SWNS. Unfortunately, their attempts at CPR were unsuccessful, and their daughter was pronounced dead upon arrival at Norwich University Hospital.

Though this particular scenario is thankfully an unlikely occurrence, and something few pediatricians come across or hear in their practice, accidents and unintentional injuries of this nature do happen every day. In fact, unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for children in the United States, according to the CDC Childhood Injury Report.

Perhaps the most jarring aspect to this story, however, is that the parents had taken the necessary precautions to carefully keep the cord out of their child's reach, tucking it behind the shelf and tacking it down the wall.

"It was safe and nothing had changed for the whole time she was sleeping in there, which was over a year," Duggan said. "The coroner and the police think that she had seen the extension lead and pulled the extension lead up from underneath. The wires then got enough slack in it that she got the wire round her neck then the weight of the extension lead dropped and it cut off her air supply."

The Duggan's bravery in speaking out to warn other parents about their tragedy is certainly compelling. In addition to being aware of these sort of tragic accidents, pediatricians recommend that all parents brush up on the safety guidelines regarding strangulation prevention and never underestimate their toddler's budding abilities when it comes to his or her increasing ability to get into things.

"It's clear that the parents cared about their toddler's safety and well-being and tried to 'get it right,' as evidenced not only by the fact that they were using a monitor presumably in order to be able to intermittently check in on their daughter, but also by their description of how they had tried to place it and its cords in a way that was intended to be out of reach," Laura Jana, M.D., FAAP, pediatrician and author of "Jumping Into Kindergarten" and "The Toddler Brain," tells Parents.com. "While it isn't clear exactly how their daughter got a hold of the cord, what is all too painfully clear in retrospect is that it wasn't far enough out of to be out of reach of their toddler."

Dr. Jana recommends making sure cribs are placed far out of reach of potential hazards. That includes things like cords, strings, windows, and blinds. Make sure to also take into account young children's increasing mobility when removing potentially dangerous items from their rooms altogether.

"This becomes all the more important as children transition from crib to bed, as everything becomes all the more accessible—both because of less confinement, and also because of toddlers' budding curiosity and mobility," she says. "Also, make an effort to see the world through your child's eyes—crawling on the floor, considering the view from the crib—to make sure you don't overlook potential hazards."

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