2010 Report of the Paediatric Death Review Committee and Deaths Under Five
Committee released

TORONTO, June 9 /CNW/ - Dr. Bert Lauwers, Deputy Chief Coroner for Investigations and Chair, today announced the release of the combined 2010 Report of the Paediatric Death Review Committee and the Deaths Under Five Committee.

Working under the leadership of the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario, the purpose of the Paediatric Death Review Committee and the Deaths Under Five Committee is to assist the Office of the Chief Coroner in the investigation and review of deaths of children and to make recommendations to help prevent deaths in similar circumstances. Committee members include coroners, medical and child welfare experts, police and pathologists.

The 2010 report contains data from deaths reviewed in 2009 when the Paediatric Death Review Committee examined the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 135 children between the ages of 0 and 19 years. The Deaths Under Five Committee reviewed 92 deaths. The purpose of the reviews is to objectively analyze the circumstances leading up to, and surrounding the deaths and to develop recommendations aimed at preventing deaths in similar circumstances. The review does not assign blame or responsibility. Most of the recommendations suggested by the committees through the reviews are focused on promoting best practices within the child welfare and medical systems, and educating the public on child safety measures.

The results noted in the 2010 report are consistent with those of previous years, which have shown that the most vulnerable ages for paediatric deaths are for infants under 12 months and children aged 12 to 18 years. Most deaths were by natural or accidental means and many of them were preventable. The involvement of a Children's Aid Society did not appear to be a factor in the majority of child deaths. In cases where there was involvement by a Children's Aid Society, most deaths could not have been foreseen or prevented by the agency.

Upon review of the cases presented to the Paediatric Death Review Committee and Deaths Under Five Committee, unsafe sleeping environments and bed sharing practices were once again identified as factors in a number of deaths. In fact, a Canadian study profiled in the annual report indicates that bed sharing is prevalent among mothers in that, 72 per cent of participants reported that they bed shared with their baby on either a regular or occasional basis.

The Office of the Chief Coroner cannot stress enough the importance of the following information for parents, caregivers, child welfare agencies, health-care professionals and government ministries:

    Unsafe sleeping environments - Infants should sleep alone, on their backs
    and on a surface specifically designed for infant sleep. The Paediatric
    Death Review Committee stresses the importance of not bed sharing,
    particularly with infants under the age of 12 months. Examples of unsafe
    sleeping environments include: adult beds, couches, armchairs and infant
    swings. The sleeping environment should not contain bumper pads, toys,
    pillows or covers designed for adults.

Given the prevalence of bed sharing and the potential danger that it poses to infants, the Office of the Chief Coroner urges and supports the following recommendations:

    1.  A Canadian national preventative medicine educational program that
        should be created and directed to parents of newborns and delivered
        by primary care physicians, health-care providers, public health
        agencies and government ministries about proper sleeping environments
        for infants.

    2.  Parents of newborns should be educated about the risk of bed sharing
        and taught about safe sleep environments before being discharged from
        all Ontario Hospitals.

The report is available upon request at: occo.inquiries@ontario.ca.

Disponible en français


SOURCE Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services

For further information: For further information: Cheryl Mahyr, Issues Manager, Office of the Chief Coroner and the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, (416) 314-4046

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Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services

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