HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Department of Justice review suggests the state could prevent child deaths with public campaigns about reporting child abuse and safe sleep practices for newborns.
The Office of Child and Family Ombudsman reviewed the deaths of 12 children last year whose cases had been reported to Child and Family Services within a year of their deaths.
Nine of the children were under age 3, including seven who were less than a year old.
One case is being prosecuted as deliberate homicide and another as negligent homicide. Two others remain under investigation. Three were deemed accidental, including one involving co-sleeping with a parent who had a history of drug use.
Two deaths were due to medical complications for a child whose mother used illegal drugs while pregnant. Two were ruled suicides and in another the cause was undetermined.
Monday's report said in two cases, workers at the child abuse hotline did not categorize them as needing investigation even through the reporting party was a doctor or law enforcement officer.

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