Springfield Toddler Dies During Botched Head Lice Treatment

A home remedy for head lice may have contributed to the death of an 18-month-old Springfield girl on January 31.

Springfield police were called to a home because a child was not breathing, according to the Associated Press. An officer told the AP that the girl’s scalp was covered in mayonnaise and a plastic bag was placed over her head, probably part of a home remedy for head lice.

It is believed that the girl was left unattended and the bag slipped over her face, causing her to suffocate. According to MassLive, another child in the Cass Street home also had head lice, but the family elected to treat his case by shaving his head.

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The Centers for Disease Control does not have “clear scientific evidence’’ on whether mayonnaise is effective as a treatment for head lice, but is often used anyway. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health lists mayonnaise as a treatment, but says data is lacking regarding its effectiveness. The Mayo Clinic also lists mayonnaise, but warns that “there is little to no clinical evidence of the effectiveness of such treatments.’’

No charges have been filed, though the incident remains under investigation by both the Springfield police and, according to MassLive, the Department of Children and Families.

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