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Forgetting a baby in the backseat? Yes, it could be you.

Last updated August 12, 2022

By Tina Underwood

Gilles Einstein, Furman University emeritus professor of psychology, and Mark McDaniel, professor of psychological and brain sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, have co-authored an opinion piece in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch about a subject that no doubt sparks nightmares among many parents and caregivers of young children. The authors cite statistics from, which reports that since 1998, more than 900 children left in vehicles have died of heat stroke, with an average of 37 children dying each year.

Drawing from their 2007 book, “Prospective Memory: An Overview and Synthesis of an Emerging Field,” the authors unravel why these tragic incidents happen in the first place, and more importantly, offer ways to prevent them. They write, “These tragedies are entirely avoidable. But the first and most important step is to recognize that all of us are susceptible. The problem is not bad parents. The problem is that most people don’t have a good understanding of their own memory systems – and even less of the factors that cause such systems to fail.”

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