New Numbers: A review of (and response to) Virginia’s Annual Child Fatality Report
In October 2014, the Virginia Department of Social Services put out their Annual Report on Child Fatalities which reviews child and infant deaths in the previous year. Child fatality review teams set out to research and understand what is causing infant death in Virginia and if any of these deaths were preventable. This year, they continued to find some really interesting research in Virginia’s 109 child fatalities. 48 percent of the cases that they reviewed were sleep-related infant deaths. They also found that 95 percent of those deaths were preventable and were most likely correlated to an unsafe sleep environment. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome played a part in many of the infant deaths and could have been prevented with proper safe sleep techniques.
Listed below are helpful resources to get more information about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and how to create safe sleep environments:
Abusive Head Trauma was another common cause of death in the state of Virginia. Abusive Head Trauma, also known as Shaken Baby Syndrome, can lead to many serious injuries, such as blindness and mental retardation as well as death. The most common cause of death that the reviewers found in the Child Fatality Study was from an external cause or injury and that was 50 percent of children. Men were identified as causing the death in 58 percent of these external injury cases. Because the report found that men were more likely to actively cause an infant’s death, one of their recommendations was continuing efforts toward strong fatherhood initiatives and programs.
Listed below are helpful resources and tips about Shaken Baby Syndrome and information about how to cope with a crying child:
The timing could not be better for Operation Safe Babies, a new initiative set forth by SCAN to promote the safety of infants. It is a program that will educate parents and caregivers on the importance of practicing safe sleep for babies, parenting/caregiving tips that can prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome, and other strategies to help keep infants safe. Through a partnership with Cribs for Kids, Operation Safe Babies will provide Graco Pack ‘n Play portable cribs to families in the coming year who otherwise could not afford a safe place for their babies to sleep. SCAN will also work to educate these families and other Northern Virginia parents about safe sleep and how to soothe a crying baby in order to decrease the risk of SIDS and Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Resources: Virginia Department of Social Services. (2014). Child Fatality Review Teams Annual Report.