A baby girl died this weekend when family members spread mayonnaise on her scalp and placed a shopping bag on her head—a home remedy for head lice, the Republican reports. Police in Springfield, Mass., say the 1-year-old child was left alone for hours and apparently suffocated under the bag. Investigations are ongoing, but no charges have been filed and the Massachusetts Dept. of Children and Families took no other children in the house into custody; they're staying with relatives instead. The grim tale began when officers responded to a Saturday afternoon call about a child in the Liberty Heights neighborhood who wasn't breathing, police say.
Officers were told the bag had slipped down over the girl's face and suffocated her when she fell asleep unattended, CBS News reports. A boy living in the house also had lice, but had his head shaved instead. The mayonnaise-bag remedy isn't considered a real medical treatment, but is fairly common as a home remedy: The mayo's oil apparently plays a role in suffocating adult lice even though doesn't kill lice eggs. The Head Lice Center recommends covering the scalp in mayonnaise and plastic for as long as eight hours, but says a shower cap is safer than a bag when used on children. A North American study last year found that a majority of over-the-counter remedies are unable to kill most head lice because they carry a gene mutation, CBS 8 reports. (Read more lice stories.)