Local News

Army secretary views Fort Bragg housing where infants died

Posted October 29, 2010 6:12 p.m. EDT
Updated October 29, 2010 7:04 p.m. EDT

— Army secretary John McHugh called the unexplained deaths of 10 infants in the past three years a "frustrating mystery" after viewing Fort Bragg housing where the children, ages 8 months to 2 years, died.

Officials have said that one infant died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but they haven’t been able to determine the cause of death for the other nine.

Fort Bragg officials said Tuesday that extensive testing found no evidence that the composition of the housing contributed to the deaths. The Army's Criminal Investigative Command and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission continue to investigate.

"This is a critically important issue for us in the Army," McHugh said. "We have made considerable efforts to this point, and we're going to do everything we can to get to the bottom of this."

The CPSC and Army's CID are looking into a host of factors, he said, although it will likely be February before their probe is complete.

"Not just the kind of things that have been talked about – drywall and such are looked at – but every possibility from lead paint to black mold," McHugh said.

McHugh said he's not aware of similar cases of infant deaths at other military installations.

"I have asked and, indeed, CID has tried to cross-reference on other posts to see if there are similar circumstances. We don't have that analysis, but we are looking at it," he said.

McHugh offered reassurances to families with young children living at Fort Bragg.

"We have no reason to suspect that Army housing, whether it's here at Fort Bragg (or elsewhere), is anything but safe," he said.