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Army taking new look at Bragg baby deaths

Posted March 31, 2011

— Army Secretary John McHugh said Thursday that he has asked a special team of investigators to examine Fort Bragg housing in the wake of the unexplained deaths of a dozen young children in the last four years.

Separately, Army investigators said that tests conducted in military housing at Fort Bragg found no elevated pesticide levels that would pose a health hazard.

The Army Criminal Investigative Command has been investigating the deaths of 12 children under age 2 in Fort Bragg housing since the beginning of 2007.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted earlier testing that found levels of two pesticides – permethrin and cypermethrin – were on the "upper end of normal" but were not enough to be hazardous.

So, the Army had an independent lab conduct additional tests to rule out any link between pesticides and the baby deaths.

CPSC officials noted, however, that normal levels are based on adult exposure and that similar limits don't exist for infants.

Fort Bragg has tested 10 homes connected to the deaths for carbon monoxide, mercury vapor, mold, lead, asbestos and toxins in the drywall. All tests were negative or were at levels well below the standard for human exposure set by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, officials said.

The CPSC also found no problems with drywall in the homes, no water or air contamination and no overt mold growth.

McHugh said the lack of answers prompted him to send a team of chemists, architects and environmental health experts to conduct another analysis. He said he expects their report in the near future.

"It is incredibly frustrating to see the loss of 12 infants ... and not be able to find an answer," McHugh told U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. "We don't want to leave any stone unturned, but quite frankly, from a scientific standpoint, we are getting to the end of what we know to be the available investigative tools."

One of the infant deaths was attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but the cause of death of the others has never been determined.

Two infants died in the same house at Fort Bragg within three months. The other deaths occurred in different neighborhoods on post and in homes of varying ages and construction styles, according to Army officials.


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  • cmsa80 Apr 1, 2011

    Did they do autopsies on the babies to determine a cause of death?

  • existentialtransportservices Apr 1, 2011

    Incorrect testing for sulfur after correct testing discovered dangerously high levels of it in the Chinese drywall. Claiming SIDS although that can't cause babies to die bleeding from their mouths and noses. Ignoring complaints of mold. Blaming the parents and insinuating poor hygiene and bad parenting. Sweeping other strange infant deaths under the rug and only admitting to the 12 that can't be lied about. 3 babies from 3 different families died at 3 different times in the same house. Holding a conference to assure military families all is well but issuing veiled threats that living on Post is a privilege. Making statements on Facebook that military families should attend parenting classes to prevent further deaths. Refusing to meet with grieving family members. Stating that there really isn't much officially left that can be done to stop babies from dying. This is a cover up, and it's murder. Just like they did when they knew the water was toxic for decades at Lejeune.

  • mlwmorales Apr 1, 2011

    Correction. We lived on base from 1993 to 1996 when they cleaned out the asbestos.

  • mlwmorales Apr 1, 2011

    After we moved out back in 2007 from on post housing...the apartment was blocked off for asbestos. Go figure.

  • Jbmat Apr 1, 2011

    Has anyone looked at the mother's lifestyles? Did they drink, smoke, take prescription drugs? Is there a genetic link? Is it possible a mistake was made, and they took the wrong drugs during pregnancy? Look for common denominators.

  • nomorethanthat Apr 1, 2011

    Another thing that they are not looking into or even want to look at is airborne particle residue of munitions and chemicals that are in the air at Bragg and what is brought home by the service member when he or she comes home and which is transferred to the infant when that service member picks up their child.

  • WTBsupport Apr 1, 2011

    Why aren't they looking at where the Service Member was deployed to? If all the tests are coming back normal, they should be looking at genetic defects that may have not been apparent at birth.

  • MitziGaynor Mar 31, 2011

    This is why I want my son and his pregnant, due in July, wife to move out of there. They don't drink the water, but their housing is DISGUSTING. The last tenant had animals he NEVER let out. The house was their bathroom. The apartment owners did NOT replace the subflooring. The place reeks, the paint is peeling off the bedroom wall, she got locked in the bathroom because the door sticks.....NASTY and they get A LOT of money for this lesser than section 8 housing.

  • RB-003 Mar 31, 2011

    For those wondering, past stories have said the number per population is out of line. Not sure why they're not saying that anymore. Remember too, 2 children died in one house, and they say they can't find anything wrong in that house.

    I have a general distrust of this because for decades, the military said there was nothing wrong with the water at Lejeune. Then (just a couple of years ago) an independent test found benzene which had leaked into the base's water system from an off-base dry cleaners.

    If the independent tester could find this, why couldn't the government testers?

    And because this went on for decades, just think how many thousands of valiant Marines AND THEIR FAMILIES were exposed to this bad water.

    When that hit the news, suddenly the military got very judicious about checking everything, and found black mold in several of the barrack buildings and some of the family housing on the base.



  • anneonymousone Mar 31, 2011

    The heartache that each family has gone through is immeasurable, and I feel sorrow for them all.

    None of the news coverage has mentioned what the population is on base, nor what would be considered a typical death rate for infants among that number of people. If the statistics are out of the norm for the general population of the same age group, I would also like to see an independent investigator brought in.

    Proximity is not the same things as causality, but I don't know that I'm ready to accept any governmental investigators' word for it, and these two phrases are among the reasons why: Agent Orange, Tuskegee Syphilis Study.