Child fatalities grow slightly, state reports

Saturday, March 9, 2002



Fatality findings: To view the entire, 71-page report go to

By Andrea L. Buchanan ~ Southeast Missourian

The deaths of 1,213 children, 10 from Cape Girardeau County, have been broken down into black and white statistics in an annual report released this week by the Missouri Child Fatality Review Program.

The findings of 115 county-based panels from the year 2000 were analyzed in an attempt to find out what causes fatal injuries to children and who the children are.

The goal of the report is to provide information to the public about how to prevent child fatalities, including providing tips on safe sleeping arrangements for infants, signs of child abuse and early signals of suicidal tendencies.

The report indicates that of the 1,213 children who died, 1,081 were reviewed by the coroner or medical examiner because the deaths occurred in suspicious or unclear circumstances.

Of the 1,081 deaths reviewed by county panels, 787 were white, 284 were black and 10 were other races.

Deaths in male children, 618, were higher than females, 463.

Infants are majority

The majority of the children were infants, 616 of them being less than 12 months old. Missouri law requires an autopsy by a pathologist in any case of a sudden, unexpected death in an infant.

Causes such as illness and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome were responsible for 657 of the children whose deaths were investigated.

SIDS, described as "the sudden, unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant" was the cause of death for 59 children in the state.

One case was a 4-month-old infant who was put to sleep on his stomach on thick bedding. He was found unresponsive the next morning.

Another described a 7-week-old infant who was placed on his back between the parents. He was found dead by his mother.

Unintentional injuries killed 257 children, with the leading cause of these being vehicle crashes, which killed 161 children. Sixty-three of those were riding without seat belts or child restraint seats.

Suffocation or strangulation, drowning and fires are also listed in the unintentional injuries category. In addition, accidents with guns resulted in the deaths of six children.

Homicide was the cause of 49 child deaths with 22 of those listed as fatal child abuse and neglect.

Other deaths were the result of gang or drug-related violence, child abduction and murder.

Of the 22 children killed by child abuse, 13 were infants less than one year old. Five more were younger than 4 years old.

The third leading cause of death for Missouri children is suicide, with 28 children taking their own lives. Eight of those children were under 14.

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