The Essex district attorney's office says it is investigating the deaths of at least five babies that happened since April, two of whom were in foster care.
A statement released Thursday by Carrie Kimball, spokesperson for District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, emphasized that the deaths are not necessarily criminal, and that state investigators are required to be involved with all unattended and unexpected deaths.
Most recently, on June 23, state police detectives received a report of a 15-month-old girl who died while in foster care in Lawrence, Kimball said. Emergency efforts were made to revive the unresponsive baby, but she was pronounced dead after being brought to Lawrence General Hospital.
A ruling on the cause of death from the chief medical examiner could take two months, Kimball said.
She said the causes of the other babies' deaths will also take time to determine.
On April 25, police were notified of a 3-month-old boy who also died while in foster care — that time in Methuen, according to Kimball's statement.
Life-saving measures were taken, but the baby boy died at Holy Family Hospital, Kimball said.
Kimball said that on April 18, a 4-week-old boy died in Haverhill. The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families had an open investigation involving the baby at the time of his death, Kimball said.
The baby was pronounced dead at Holy Family Hospital in Haverhill, she said.
Kimball said the DA's office is investigating "at least two other baby deaths with no DCF involvement." Both happened in Methuen, she said later.
On May 1, an 8-month-old boy died in Methuen, according to Kimball. She also said that in Methuen, on June 15, a 5-month-old boy with "significant congenital medical issues" died.
There were no ties to DCF in those deaths, Kimball said.
"Again, let me be clear. The involvement of the DA’s office is required by law and should not in any way indicate that these deaths are criminal or not," she wrote in a statement. "Also, understand that we are conducting investigations and we consider and look at ALL of the evidence to determine what happened. Nothing is ruled in or out.
"It is PREMATURE to SPECULATE as to how any of these children died until the Medical Examiner makes their ruling, which ... takes time,'' she said.