“Bernie Baby” and the Decline of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: News, Policy & Politics

“Bernie Baby,” a Los Angeles infant who gained attention on social media after his mother dressed him like Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, has died, the Associated Press reports.

The apparent cause of death was sudden infant death syndrome, according to a family member. Oliver Jack Carter Lomas-Davis was just shy of four months old.

Such stories are terrifying, especially for parents who, like me, are caring for an infant. But they are relatively rare, according to the Centers for Disease Control. About 3,500 infants die in the U.S. each year from sudden, unexpected causes — about 40 percent of which are later determined to be sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.

This graph, created by the agency, shows the rate of sudden unexpected infant deaths, or SUIDs, from 1990 to 2014. Such cases involve three main categories, the most high profile being SIDS. It dropped from 130.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 38.7 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2014.

Trends in Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Rates by Cause, 1990-20

The overall drop could be attributed to increased public awareness, including two government safety campaigns initiated in the early 1990s, according to the agency.

Mapping Police Officer Slayings by State

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Crime, News

Newly sworn police officer Ashley Guindon, center, was killed responding to a 911 call on her first day working for the Prince William County (Va.) Police Department. She was 28. Image via Twitter.

Newly sworn in police officer Ashley Guindon, center, was killed responding to a 911 call on her first day working for the Prince William County (Va.) Police Department. She was 28. Image via Twitter.

A rookie Virginia police officer working her first official shift was shot and killed Saturday while responding to a domestic violence dispute, authorities say. The officer, Ashley Guindon, was killed a day after being sworn in to the Prince William County Police Department.

Guindon, 28, was the 22nd police officer killed in the United States this year, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which has among the most comprehensive and timely national statistics on the Web. It was the first such incident this year in Virginia.

Since 1791, according to the site, more than 22,000 police personnel — federal, state, local and tribal (and K-9) — have been killed in the line of duty. The country’s most populous states — California, Texas and New York — lead the nation in police killings. That’s no surprise given the size of their populations.

The map below, however, attempts to normalize the state totals by adjusting for the total number of police officers in each state as of 2011 — the latest data available from the FBI. (Police forces by state vary in size based on a number of factors, including density. The District of Columbia, for example, is among the least-populous “states” listed in the data, but it has the highest rate of officers per capita in the country. That’s because it experiences a huge influx of daily commuters from Virginia and Maryland each day — and because of the tourism and security that comes with being the nation’s capital).

By that crude measure, Kentucky has proportionally had the highest number of killings, with roughly 85 per 1,000 officers, followed by West Virginia (47) and Montana (42). Florida (11), Arizona (12) and New Hampshire (13) — states, incidentally, with older populations — have the lowest rates, respectively. Again, this rate isn’t perfect, but it’s better than viewing the raw totals (which looks like a population map).

Police killings per 1,000 officers: 1791-2016. Data source: Officer Down Memorial Page. Map by Matt Stiles/The Daily Viz.

Police deaths per 1,000 officers: 1791-2016. Data sources: Officer Down Memorial Page, FBI. Map by Matt Stiles/The Daily Viz.

A Century Of Global Plane Crashes

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: News

Investigators still want to know what caused a civilian airliner to crash Tuesday morning in the French Alps. The incident, which likely killed 144 passengers and six crew members aboard the Airbus A320 destined for Germany, is one of at least 17 major crashes this year, according to the Bureau of Aircraft Accident Archives.

The group maintains a detailed database of each crash back to 1918, the early days of flight, allowing users to search 22,000 cases by year, operator, plane type and cause, among several other variables. This one is at least the 18th involving an Airbus A320, according to the database.

The chart below shows the number of crashes catalogued by the group during that time. You can see a spike in 1944, during World War II, when many military aircraft went down in battle, resulting in more than 4,300 casualties:

Since then, the number of crashes peaked in 1978 and has declined over time. There were about 120 crashes last year, according to the bureau’s records.