First in a series
Over her short life, Avah Forrester’s eyes turned from gray to blue to brown, same as her brother Alex.
She was just starting to smile. Her parents captured them on a single video, 9 seconds long.
“I watch that video over and over again,” says Avah’s mother.
The 10-week-old normally slept in a crib in the family’s Jacksonville apartment, on her back, her parents say.
Then one December night, her mother was in bed breast-feeding Avah. More tired than she realized, she fell asleep. When she reached for her baby a few hours later, Avah was wet, limp and cold.
Sobbing in her father’s lap that day, Avah’s mother, Jessica Milum, cried: “What did I do for God to tease me, to give me this precious baby and then take her away?”
A year later, Alex, now 4, still asks: “Where is my baby sister?”
Avah Mae Forrester died Dec. 30, 2015, one of more than 1,000 infants in Arkansas since 1999 who appeared to be healthy when they went to sleep, then never woke up.
Most died in surroundings that experts say were unsafe for babies less than a year old.
In the U.S. and Arkansas, sleep deaths claim more babies between the ages of 1 month to 1 year than any other cause, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That includes birth defects, premature births, vehicle crashes and assaults.
Arkansas has a higher rate of infant sleep deaths than 48 other states.
Between 1999 and 2015, Arkansas lost 1.6 infants in sleep-related deaths per 1,000 live births, according to CDC…
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