Task Force Releases Child Fatality Statistics
Sixteen children in Moore County died in 2007, according to a recent study by the N.C. Child Fatality Task Force.
Birth defects and perinatal conditions accounted for 10 of those deaths. There were one motor vehicle fatality, one homicide, two suicides, and one death caused by "other injuries." According to the task force, 68 Moore County children died between 2003-2007.
Eleven of the deaths occurred in children under one year of age. One child between ages five and nine and another child between ages 10 and 14 died. Three children between ages 15 and 17 died.
"The first step in preventing child fatalities is to understand what we have: how and why deaths are occurring in North Carolina," said Krista Ragan, research director for the N.C. Child Fatality Prevention Team. "Careful examination of past fatalities helps us identify trends and risk factors that can lead to important changes in policies and laws to protect our children."
The team will release more detailed reports of 2007 child fatalities in future months.
Statewide, North Carolina's child death rate increased slightly from the prior year's historic low, according to the Task Force, a legislative study commission that studies the causes of child deaths and makes recommendations to prevent future deaths.
Official figures gathered by the State Center for Health Statistics and the child fatality staff in the office of the chief medical examiner show a rate of 75.1 deaths per 100,000 children from birth through 17 years of age.
"While this represents a slight increase of 2.6 percent from 2006, the overall trend has been downward, with a 13 percent decrease in the child death rate in the past decade and a 29 percent decrease since the inception of the task force in 1999," said Tom Vitaglione, chairman of the task force and senior fellow with Action for Children North Carolina. "Continued investments and safety laws passed by the General Assembly, as well as the hard work and perseverance of state and local agencies, have led to the decline in child death rates. However, there is clearly still more work to be done."
The release of these data begins the annual study cycle of the task force, which uses the data to develop evidence-based recommendations to shape policy and law to enhance child health and safety.
Highlights of the 2007 data include:
n The infant death rate rose 5 percent from 2006 to 2007. The death rates in ages 1-14 years remained essentially unchanged. However, the death rate in the 15-17 years of age category dropped 11 percent.
- There was a 13 percent drop in the number of deaths related to motor vehicles.
"The task force will be delving into these data to get a better determination of the progress that has been made," said Vitaglione. "It is likely that a reduction in motor vehicle-related deaths has played a role in the decline in the death rate for ages 15-17. It is also likely that the enhanced safety laws passed by the General Assembly in the past few years are bearing fruit in terms of saving children's lives."
- The four bicycle-related deaths in 2007 is the lowest number ever recorded in North Carolina.
"Before passage of the bicycle helmet requirement for riders under age 16 in 2001, the number of these deaths had crept up to 18 annually," Vitaglione said. "We know that lots of children still do not comply with the law. We hope that these data will help convince parents that it saves lives when children wear helmets."
- Though the number of deaths due to fires jumped to 24 in 2007, these deaths often occur in multiples. For example, 13 fires were responsible for the 24 deaths.
- Homicide and suicide remain relatively intractable tragedies among children and youth.
"The task force will continue to study the circumstances of these events, including the role of firearms," said Vitaglione.
- Infant deaths continue to represent about two-thirds of all deaths in children from birth through age 17.
"Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and prematurity are two of the primary causes of infant deaths, and we are pleased that the General Assembly has provided additional appropriations to address these problems," Vitaglione said. "The task force is undertaking a renewed study of prematurity, and we hope to have recommendations ready for the next administration and General Assembly session."
The N.C. Child Fatality Task Force also released the number of child deaths for each county by cause and age. Because the numbers for each county are relatively small, rates are not computed.
State and county data can be found online at http://www.ncchild.org.
Contact John Krahnert III at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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