The death of a baby linked to the lack of housing in Nunavik

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The death of a baby linked to the lack of housing in Nunavik

It was the tenth infant death in the region in 2021. (Archives)

Coroner Geneviève Thériault calls on the Quebec government to ;Rapidly increase the supply of social housing in Nunavik, while overcrowding of homes is believed to be the cause of the death of an infant during his sleep, in April 2021.

The story was first brought to light in the pages of the daily Le Devoir, before the coroner published her investigation report.

We learn that, on the evening of his death in Kangiqsualujjuaq, a 3-month-old child was sleeping on a double mattress.

An adult came to join him at the end of the evening to sleep. A second person would have joined them a little later.

The child was found in cardiorespiratory arrest around 1 a.m., and his death was declared at the dispensary in the village of Kangiqsualujjuaq.

About 950 people live in the village of Kangiqsualujjuaq, in Nunavik.

According to the coroner, it is possible that the child was crushed during his sleep, which could have created asphyxiation by suffocation. Blankets may also have covered his head.

The autopsy, however, did not conclude beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is the cause official of death.

In an autopsy, it's practically undetectable. This is why it is very difficult to determine that a child died of asphyxiation. The circumstances are also difficult to determine exactly, explains coroner Geneviève Thériault.

Other risk factors were also mentioned by the coroner in this story, such as exposure to second-hand smoke and the fact that the baby was not breastfed .

Breastfeeding contributes to the general health of infants and strengthens their immune system.

The exact cause of his death has not been determined, however, and health authorities have concluded that a case of sudden infant death syndrome.

The context of the death of this child is not an isolated case. In 2021, 10 children under the age of 1 also died of undetermined causes in Nunavik. The coroner noted similarities in the circumstances of these deaths.

Overcrowding in housing is mentioned as a recurring risk factor. Due to lack of space, young children sleep in the same bed as adults, posing a risk of death by involuntary asphyxiation.

You must sleep alone, in a bed appropriate to the size of the child, such as [a crib]. Without a blanket, without a stuffed animal, without a pillow, without anything that could suffocate him. When a child sleeps in an adult bed […], it can mean that, in the night, he finds himself crushed, explains the coroner.

When you have overcrowded housing, it does not allow you to put children in [children's beds] so that they can sleep in a safe environment alone, adds- her.

Geneviève Thériault therefore recommends rapid investment by provincial and federal authorities in the construction of safe social housing in Nunavik.

The need is also crying out in the region, where 47% of housing is overcrowded.

Entre 2016 and 2021, however, the proportion of overcrowded housing declined by 5% to 47%.

The Kativik Municipal Housing Office pointed out last September that more than 800 housing units were missing to meet demand in the region.

In Nunavik, construction is being slowed down by the difficulty of sourcing materials, by the lack of labor and by the exorbitant cost of the work.

The coroner recommends in the short term to ensure free access to a bed adapted to the age of children, for all families in the region.

“That would probably be the easiest thing to implement quickly. »

— Geneviève Thériault

She also recommends continuing to raise awareness about safe sleep practices for children and anti-smoking campaigns.

It also calls on the Ministry of Health and Social Services to deploy more midwives, nurses, family doctors, pediatricians, social workers and addiction specialists to improve the situation. /p>

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