Local child fatalities climb again
Chris Berendt Staff Writer
There were 22 deaths of children 18 or younger in 2012, which was four more than the previous year and a 70 percent increase from 2010’s total, according to a recently released annual report from the Child Fatality Prevention Team.
Sampson County is required to establish and maintain a Child Fatality Prevention Team (CFPT) to review child fatalities in for children from the ages of birth to 18 years old. As part of the team’s efforts, the Child Fatality Report is submitted annually for review by the Sampson County Board of Commissioners, which received that report during its September meeting.
The CFPT, which was initiated in June 1995, is tasked with identifying areas for improvement and to recommend changes that would promote the safety and well-being of children.
According to Health Director Wanda Robinson, who heads the CFPT, there were a total of 22 cases reviewed during the calendar year of 2012. The majority of those cases involved infants — at 12. There were another two deaths in children ages 1-4; three deaths among those 5-9; two among 10-14; and three deaths in the 15-17 age group.
The 22 deaths among children in the community in 2012 reflected another rise in death cases, which totaled 18 in 2011 and 13 in 2010.
Of the 22, four deaths were due to birth defects, to include Turner’s Syndrome, multiple congenital malformations, Tetralogy of Fallot and multiple congenital anomalies. Six were the result of other birth-related conditions, to include perinatal conditions, malignant neoplasm of the brain stem, perinatal intestinal perforation, bacterial sepsis, hypoxic ischemia encephalopathy and respiratory distress of the newborn.
One death was due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, while five others were the result of illnesses that included Spinal Muscular Atrophy, respiratory arrest, disorders of glycerine metabolism, spinal tumor, Infantile Cerebral Palsy and malignant neoplasm.
Four deaths were caused by unintentional injuries, including three caused by motor vehicle accidents and one the result of suffocation by overlay. A suicide, as well as another death, brought the total to 22 cases.
The CFPT and the County Community Child Protection Team (CCPT) are devoted to identifying and improving the problems of child abuse, child neglect and childhood fatalities. The teams meet jointly, usually on a quarterly basis, to review cases under the direction of the DSS director and health director.
Through case reviews, needed resources are identified and possible solutions discussed in order to adequately assess the circumstances surrounding the death of a child. Local officials say the meetings prove beneficial in identifying conditions or circumstances within the community and county that affect the well-being of children and families. Serving as resources for information are case reviews, firsthand knowledge of CCPT and CFPT members and media reports about a condition.
Robinson said, among the trends identified in 2012 deaths were that the fatality rate increased substantially for infants — due primarily to congenital abnormalities, prematurity and other birth-related causes. That was a similar trend identified for 2011 deaths over those in 2010, however in 2011 there were no despite no reports of SIDS. That changed this year. Unintentional injuries increased for the year, just as they did last year over 2010’s child deaths.
Among its recommendations, CFPT said more education will be provided on the importance of the infants sleeping in their own bed to avoid incidences of death by overlay. Education in the schools regarding suicide prevention and suicide post concussion during sports in the school system.
Other recommendations are to continue to stress the importance of safety belt and safety seats for all age groups, as well as continuing to encourage the importance of early and continuous prenatal care. There must also be a campaign to reduce pregnancy.
Robinson said training is needed for new board members due to turnover in the membership. That training will occur in 2014. In the meantime, the CFPT will continue to meet jointly with the Child Protection Prevention Team toward focusing efforts on identifying and improving the problems of child abuse, child neglect and childhood fatalities.
“The team will continue to review and effectively maintain a system’s focus,” Robinson stated in her report. “The process has been effective and will continue to be fine-tuned to ensure quality reviews.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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