One of the ways we create good public health interventions is by studying outcomes. This week, the 20th Annual Child Fatality Review report came out- which examines all 854 deaths of children under the age of 18 in 2012. The Report reviews the circumstances of each child’s death, determines preventability and makes recommendations to save children’s lives moving forward.
Although the number of deaths this year is up from last year, Arizona has had a 26% decline in child deaths over the last 8 years. The decrease we’ve seen over the years in AZ can be partially attributed to many of the initiatives recommend by the Annual Child Fatality Review Reports. This year’s report makes recommendations to families, law enforcement, health care providers, social service agencies, and the communities in which children live.
One area we’re going to focus on is the sleeping environment. Fifty one children died in unsafe sleeping environments. Every child under one should have his or her own sleeping space and always be put to sleep on his or her back. Ideally that space can be in the parents’ room to make it easier to breastfeed. The idea of co-sleeping has been around for many years, but it’s not a good idea until a child is able to easily move on its own. We have a safe sleep task force starting working on this right now. Our home visiting and WIC folks also help to spread the word about safe sleep to new parents and families.
Another area we’re going to focus on is reducing prematurity – almost 25% of the children who died last year were born too early. We’ve had success in reducing the number of babies born early by working with partners across the state and parents – and we’ll continue fighting that with our preconception health campaigns, the March of Dimes programs and our home visiting program.