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State Child Death Review Board: Child deaths in 2015 continue downward trend

Release Date: Sep 29, 2017

TOPEKA – (September 29, 2017) – The child death rate in Kansas reached another record low in 2015, according to a newly released report from the Kansas State Child Death Review Board.

The board’s 2017 annual report analyzes deaths that occurred in calendar year 2015, the most recent year for which data is available. The report showed that Kansas had 394 child fatalities that year, down from 410 deaths in 2014. The death rate of 54.8 deaths per 100,000 population is the lowest rate since the board began reviewing cases in 1994. The report was filed today.

“The death of a child is always a tragedy,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said. “This report brings some good news that child deaths are at their lowest rate in the more than 20 years the State Child Death Review Board has been reviewing cases. We appreciate the board’s work in providing this information, which will inform policymakers on steps to continue preventing deaths of Kansas children.”

In addition to the overall number of child deaths, the report showed that the rate of infant deaths – which includes newborns through 1 year of age – decreased to 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births from 6.6 in 2014. This marked the lowest infant mortality rate in the past 10 years. Working to decrease the infant mortality rate continues to be a goal of the board and Kansas policymakers.

While Kansas is showing a decline in overall child deaths, the death rates for both homicides and suicides are trending upwards. The child homicide rate in 2015 increased slightly from the previous year with 2.9 deaths per 100,000 population occurring. In 66 percent of those cases, the death resulted from child abuse. 

Furthermore, 18 Kansas youth were identified as committing suicide in 2015. Since 2005, Kansas has shown a steady increase in the rate of youth suicides. That rate has more than doubled over the past 11 years. 

“While it is promising to see that the overall death rates are decreasing for Kansas children, the number of child homicides and suicides remain a concern,” said Sara Hortenstine, the board’s executive director. “The information provided within this report should continue to inform individuals, organizations, and the State of Kansas as a whole to continue prevention efforts surrounding child fatalities in our state.”

In addition to policy recommendations, the report includes prevention points that families can use to decrease the likelihood of a child’s death.

The board is a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency volunteer board organized by law within the Attorney General’s Office to examine trends and patterns that identify risk factors in the deaths of children, from birth through 17 years of age.

The report is available on the attorney general’s website at http://bit.ly/2fX0tSv.

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