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Child Deaths Decrease Overall, But Birth Injuries Remain The Leading Cause

The Salisbury Post wrote last week on a new task force report which found that child death rates continued to decline last year, reaching the lowest level on record. Of course this is encouraging news that signals important advances in a wide range of child safety efforts. However, there is clearly still more work to be done, because children still die (and are severely hurt) in a wide range of ways from birth injuries to car crashes and home accidents.

According to the story gathered by the state’s Center for Health Statistics and the Child Fatality Prevention Team Research Staff, the current death rates of children from birth through 17 years old is 58 per 100,000. A year ago that number was 67 per 100,000 children. The decline was found in a range of individual areas from increased car safety measures, decreased suicide, and lower infant mortality rates. The significance of the achievement should not be underestimated, as hundreds of thousands of more children are alive today than would otherwise be the case if rates had not declined over the last several decades. Experts point to a range of public policy changes and strategic investments which prioritized child safety. Those changes include ensuring better automobile safety and preserving the accountability incentives of a birth injury lawsuit to ensure proper medical care is maximized in the crucial moments following an infant’s birth.

Of particular important to our Chicago birth injury lawyers, the latest data reported a large decline in the infant mortality rates. The drop off was seen almost exclusively in the African American community. However, almost half of all child deaths are still caused by birth defects and other birth-related conditions. These include defects that arise early on in a child’s development and that are beyond our current medical knowledge to prevent or cure. However, an unknown total of those deaths are attributable to problems during the birth itself that could have been prevented. Most often, these preventable birth injury deaths are caused by unexpected complications that occur during the birth with medical professionals failing to respond appropriately. Differentiating between birth injury deaths that could have been prevented if proper care were provided versus those that were completely accidental is sometimes difficult. The civil justice system is intended as the ideal system by which those differences can be debated and a resolution reached. In other words, the American justice system puts its faith in the trial by jury approach to these affairs, where truth comes out when both sides are allowed to present evidence openly and fairly in a structured format with impartial jurors reaching an ultimate consensus.

Outside of birth injury deaths, the most common cause of accidental death was in car accidents. Even in car accidents, children under the age of one constituted the single largest group. Nearly two thirds of all child car accident deaths were among that group. Suicides declined considerably from an abnormally high level in 2009. Other types of deaths seemed to remain constant. A few expected trends existed, such as the fact that urban children were more likely to die in fires, while rural children more often fell victim to accidental drowning.

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