Annual report reveals increase in child deaths in Tennessee

TRI-CITIES, TN - The state of Tennessee recently released the 2018 Child Fatality Annual Report that hopes to help parents understand and prevent child deaths.
The findings showed that the Volunteer State has higher mortality rate than the national average.
This report is data that was collected in 2016 and that year, nearly 1,000 children under the age of 18 died in Tennessee - a number that continues to grow.

"One of the main focuses of this report is to look at death's that are potentially preventable," said Dr. Shawn Hollinger, Assistant Professor of Neonatology at East Tennessee State University.

He is part of the review team for this study.

According to the study, 966 children died in Tennessee in 2016. 597 of those, were under the age of one. Doctors said these numbers continue to increase.

"The largest cause of death within children is medical causes. The biggest category of that is prematurity and low birth weight," Dr. Hollinger said.

"Many of the premature deaths occur because the mother has used drugs during the pregnancy," said Assistant District Attorney Julie Canter.  

She is also a member of the review team and said her office is involved because of cases like this.

Research found one-third of the deaths in 2016 were preventable.

"Deaths from suicide, deaths from motor vehicle accidents, and sleep related deaths in the infant period," Hollinger said.

"If you look at the different major categories of death in Tennessee, we are above the national average in most areas," said Dr. David Wood, Chair of the Dept. of Pediatrics at ETSU.

Some ways you can keep your child safe is to make sure your children are properly restrained in vehicles, keep firearms locked up and out of reach, and make sure infants are sleeping in safe conditions.

"Co-sleeping is not a good thing and it does result in infant mortality so that's something to be avoided at any cost," Canter said.

Dr. Hollinger said to always use the ABC's of safe sleeping: alone, on their back and in their own crib.

Doctors also suggest creating barriers around bodies of water near your home and keeping harmful chemicals out of reach.

"The majority of accidental deaths, that are not in a motor vehicle do happen in the home. So it's really looking around your home to see how you can make it safe," Wood said.

Doctors suggest locking up cabinets where children could get access to poisons, or putting up a gate to keep them from falling down the stairs.


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