A recently released annual report from the Child Fatality Prevention Team showed 18 deaths of children 18 or younger, with infants accounting for the majority of the deaths during all of 2011.
Sampson County is required to establish and maintain a Child Fatality Prevention Team (CFPT) to review child fatalities in the community. Legal mandates require each county to review child welfare cases and submit an annual report to the Board of Commissioners for the purpose of summarizing findings and submitting recommendations for reducing death among children up to 18 years of age.
She reviewed the report in general terms with the health board recently.The annual report will be formally submitted to the county board Tuesday.
According to health director Wanda Robinson, who heads up the CFPT, there were a total of 18 cases reviewed for the calendar year 2011. The majority of those cases involved infants — at 12 — with 16 of the 18 cases involving children 4 years of age or younger.
Among them, four deaths were due to birth defects, to include congenital insufficiency of aortic valve, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, multiple congenital malformations and heart disease. Six were the result of other birth-related conditions, to include perinatal conditions, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, respiratory distress and necrotizing entercolitis. Two others were the result of illnesses, encompassing septicemia and malignant neoplasm of the brain stem.
Six deaths were caused by unintentional injuries, including two caused by vehicle, one due to suffocation by overlay and one other was the result of drowning in a swimming pool. A suicide, as well as another death, brought the total to 18 cases.
The CCPT and the CFPT are interdisciplinary groups 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.
In the CCPT’s annual report, delivered earlier this year, DSS director Sarah Bradshaw noted 17 cases investigated. One or more of three major factors surfaced: substance abuse, domestic violence/domestic discord and either untreated mental health issues or the lack of mental health follow-up.
Robinson said, among the trends identified in deaths were that the fatality rate increased substantially for infants — due primarily to congenital abnormalities, prematurity and other birth-related causes — despite no reports of SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome) during the calendar year. Unintentional injuries increased for the year.
The CFPT has made recommendations, including to provide education 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 for new members is needed since there has been some membership during the last year. 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 said. “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 email@example.com.