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Child mortality review

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Sioux Falls, SD (KELO AM) Friday the Regional Infant and Child Mortality Review Committee released a report examining the deaths of infants and children in 2012 and identifying preventive strategies that may decrease the risk of loss of young life in the area. The Committee serves Minnehaha, Lincoln, Turner, McCook, Lake, Moody, Union, Hanson, Miner, and Brookings counties and is composed of professionals representing expertise in pediatrics, medicolegal death investigations, nursing, law enforcement, child protective services, emergency medical services, and mental health.

In 2012, 86 deaths occurred in the 10-county review area. Of those, 24 deaths met the Committee’s criteria and were reviewed, compared to 21 cases in 2011. Of the 24 reviewed cases, 19 were residents of Minnehaha County, two were from Brookings, and one each from Moody, Union, and McCook counties.

Ten children died from natural causes in 2012. Another ten children died as the result of accidents, which exceeds that observed in recent years but also reflects one tragedy that claimed the lives of three children in a house fire. Similar to previous years, there was one suicide this year, which did not involve a firearm. One death was the result of a homicide, and two deaths were undetermined. No deaths were attributable to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

“Since 2008, seven children’s lives may have been saved by a functioning smoke detector,” says Committee Chair and Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief Jim Sideras. “The Committee supports and encourages the ongoing efforts of local fire departments in educating the public about the need for families to install and service smoke detectors to ensure their ability to provide lifesaving warnings of home fires.”

Other safety tips for infants and children include:

  • Place all infants on their backs to sleep.
  • Do not place infants on or near soft bedding, crib bumper pads, or sofas particularly while sleeping (even on their backs).
  • Do not smoke or use alcohol while pregnant.
  • Keep medications, alcohol, cleaning products, and other chemicals locked or out of the reach of children.
  • Appropriately restrain children while in vehicles.
  • Be sensitive to adolescents adjusting to social pressures and emotional volatility.
  • Ensure children receive immunizations and undergo periodic physical examinations to detect potentially preventable and treatable illness.
  • Actively supervise children near bodies of water, including pools and bathtubs.
  • Use cordless window coverings or provide vigilant care to ensure cords are kept far away from the reach of young children.

The full report has been submitted to the South Dakota Journal of Medicine.

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