Child Fatality Trends: Insights from a Rural County Analysis

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Health Sciences


School of Nursing

Faculty Sponsor

Max Veltman


Purpose/Aims: The purpose of this project was to analyze data from child fatality reviews, autopsy records and first responder reports for a three-year period from a rural county in the Northwest. Each case had previously been reviewed by the local Child Fatality Review Team. The data will be published as a comprehensive report in an attempt to understand why children in this county die and how best to reduce or prevent child deaths in the future.

Rationale/Background: A Child Fatality Review Team often investigates child fatalities in an effort to identify the causes, risk factors and preventability of child deaths within a specific community. Currently, there is only a single statewide report of child fatality available; the most recent was from 2013. This out of date and state wide focused report leads to a gap of more current information for local counties to use to allocate resources to public health activities. More up-to-date information of child fatality at a more local level could assist county officials with important decisions regarding use of limited resources. Local review boards can take a public health approach to increase public awareness or target specialized education for parents on how to prevent child fatalities. Key policies can also be implemented or changed at the county level utilizing the data provided by the Child Fatality Review Board and this report.

Description: After obtaining the approval of multiple agencies as well as the university’s Institutional Review Board, key data were obtained from the County Coroner’s office utilizing their comprehensive records system. Thirty-six cases were analyzed from these records for fatalities that occurred in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Over the course of several weeks, all data were collected, securely stored, and then later analyzed and organized. The data was reported to the local county Child Fatality Review team after completion. The report outlines the major causes of death in the county, and these numbers are compared to state and national numbers where appropriate. Recommendations for reducing or preventing these types of deaths in the future are included.

Outcomes: Preliminary data analysis indicates that the leading cause of death over the three-year period was unintentional injuries, often from motor vehicle accidents and crush injuries. Previous research has shown that incidences of these types of fatalities can be reduced with specific interventions. The preliminary data currently suggests that the rates of other causes of death are similar to comparable state and national data.

Conclusions: This project plays an important part in understanding the occurrence of child fatalities at the county level. Accurate, up-to-date data increase the Child Fatality Review Team’s ability to target limited public health resources appropriately as well as to promote policy changes. Both are vital to decreasing preventable child deaths in this community.

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