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FOR RELEASE: November 16, 2006
CONTACT: Lisa Rhoades, Administrator
Child Death Review Board
405/271-8858

Accidents Continue to be Primary Cause of Death in Children
Child Death Review Board Makes Recommendations

The Oklahoma Child Death Review Board (CDRB) released results of its 2005 annual report today showing that in a review of 409 cases, accidents were the leading cause of Oklahoma children’s deaths at 193 (47.1 percent) and that 115 of deaths to children in the cases reviewed involved motor vehicles.

The Board found that state services had been applied for or were being provided to 322 (78.7 percent) of the families who lost a child reviewed by the CDRB in 2005 annual report. The report now goes to the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth and the appropriate state agencies to help plan strategies to prevent future deaths.

The CDRB report provides the following key findings and recommendations:

Motor Vehicle Related Deaths

Findings:

  • There were a total of 115 (28.1 percent of 409) cases in the 2005 review that involved motor vehicles. In 85 cases children were traveling in a car/van/pickup/SUV.
  • In 30 cases the children were restrained.
  • In 14 cases, the driver was cited for driving under the influence.
  • Eleven children were pedestrians hit by vehicles.
  • Seven children were riding All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs).

Recommendations:

  • Mandatory sobriety testing of drivers in motor vehicle collisions resulting in a child fatality and/or critical or serious injury to a child.
  • Enforcement of child passenger safety restraint laws.
  • Passage of ATV legislation for helmet use, passenger and driver restrictions and safety training.
  • Enforcement of Oklahoma’s Graduated Driver’s License Law.
  • Mandate universal driver education classes for high school and career tech students.
  • Court sanctions and /or education prevention programs for drug users and drunk driving offenders.
  • Promote proper booster seat use.
  • Promote funding for the Safe Kids Oklahoma Child Passenger Safety Programs including providing car seats to low income families, the Walk This Way program to reduce child pedestrian injuries and fatalities, and for SafeKids bicycle safety program.

Unsafe Sleep Practices

Findings:

  • Of the 409 death cases reviewed, there were 57 (13.9 percent of 409) cases from unsafe sleeping practice and of those 40 were classified as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In half of those, infants shared the same sleep surface with an adult or sibling.
  • Of the 57 deaths, 36 were ruled unknown with the Medical Examiner stating unsafe sleep condition might have contributed to the death.

Recommendations:

  • Require education about safe sleep practices in childbirth preparation and core curriculum.
  • Require hospitals to educate new parents on safe sleep practices prior to discharge from the hospital.
  • Provide funding for New Parent Kit to go to all first time mothers in Oklahoma to be distributed by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
  • Distribute cribs to low-income families.
  • Continue educational efforts regarding safe sleep recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics through the OSDH SIDS program.

Drowning

Findings:

  • Of the 409 deaths reviewed, 31 (7.7 percent of 409) were due to drowning.
  • Fifteen occurred in natural bodies of water and 7 in swimming pools.
  • Fifteen were 3 years old or younger.

Recommendations:

  • Require pool and hot tub retailers to distribute safety information to new owners.
  • Provide funding for Safe Kids on Oklahoma’s water safety programs including Wee Water Wahoo and Wacky Water Wahoo and the loaner life jackets Brittany Project.

Fires

Findings:

  • Nine deaths (2.2 percent of 409) reviewed were due to fire. In at least 3 of the 9 deaths due to fires, there were no working smoke detectors present in the residence.

Recommendations:

  • Fund the Safe Kids burn prevention programs including the “Save a Life” smoke detector giveaway/installment programs, fireworks safety, and childcare provider burn education curriculum

Child Abuse and Neglect

Findings:

  • A review of 42 closed cases (10. 2 percent of 409) were a result of child abuse and/or neglect of which 9 had previous child welfare referrals.

Recommendations:

  • Continue funding for the health department’s primary and secondary prevention programs and increase prevention services to serve families who do not qualify for the Child First program but are considered high risk for abuse and/or neglect.
  • Provide funding to hire additional child welfare staff to reduce caseloads to be in compliance with national standards by the Child Welfare League of American. Currently, Oklahoma caseloads are two to three times greater than the national standard.

“It is important to determine the areas of concern to the safety and well being of Oklahoma’s children so that appropriate funding and resources may be targeted to meet needs in those areas to help prevent and reduce injuries and deaths to Oklahoma’s children. By providing safety education, interventions and referral services early on, we may be able to reduce these numbers and save lives,” said Oklahoma Child Death Review Board Administrator Lisa P. Rhoades.

Since 1993, the CDRB reviews all death or near death cases of children under the age of 18 and collects statistical data to develop recommendations that could improve policies, procedures and practices within the child protection agencies of Oklahoma.

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