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DA probes teen's second infant death

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- Officials with the District Attorney's office say they are investigating the death of an infant for the second time in less than a year involving the same 14-year-old mother.

District Attorney Greg Edwards confirmed to The Albany Herald on Tuesday that the child who was born without a name died sometime last week.

"It's under investigation right now," Edwards said.

Georgia Code section 19-15-3 requires an investigation when a child who is under 17 years old dies unexpectedly. The unit investigates to determine whether it died naturally, accidentally or at the hands of another.

Greg Blackmon, the district attorney's child death investigator, said that his office is awaiting the results of an autopsy to determine the cause of death of the child identified only as "baby boy."

Last September, Blackmon said that his office was called out to investigate the death of the teenager's 4-month-old child on Leonard Avenue.

At the scene in September, Edwards said that a preliminary investigation indicated that the child, Travontae Goude, had been sick and that he died at some point during the night while his mother was asleep.

The office is still awaiting autopsy results on that child to determine the cause of death.

"Apparently, she was pregnant when we were investigating the death of the other child," Blackmon said. "She had apparently been trying to hide the fact that she was pregnant and last week she went into labor prematurely."

Blackmon said that paramedics were called to the mother's home last week by the grandmother after the teen gave birth to the child in a bathtub.

Like the child's sibling, investigators are awaiting an autopsy to determine the infant's cause of death.

According to the state Department of Community Health, in 2007, the latest year statistics are available, Dougherty County had 20 infant deaths. That number was down from its high in 1997 of 25, but up from the low of 11 in 2002.

The investigation likely will re-ignite debate on how the community can best cope and prevent teenage pregnancy.

Similar statistics from DCH show that, as with infant deaths, Albany is the anchor for Southwest Georgia when it comes to pregnancy among girls 17 or younger but that trend has slowly been on the decline.

According to those statistics, in 2008, Dougherty County had 136 pregnancies among school-aged women between 10 and 17 years of age.

That same year, there were 14 pregnancies among girls who were between 10 and 14 years of age.

But since pregnancies to school-aged girls spiked at 214 in 1997, pregnancies in the 10-17 year-old age group has generally been on the decline.

In 2002, teen pregnancies bottomed out at 123 before climbing slightly and dropping again to 124 in 2007. By 2008 there was another uptick, according to the data.

There was no data available for 2009 or 2010.

Graphic showing the number of infant deaths since 1995.

Graphic showing the number of teen pregnancies 1995.