Originally created 09/22/04

Child deaths decrease, report says



COLUMBIA - The number of children dying from preventable causes continued to decrease in South Carolina in 2002, but more work could be done to educate people on unsafe sleeping conditions, according to a report released Tuesday.

The State Child Fatality Advisory Committee reviewed at least 205 child deaths in 2002, some of which were from natural causes such as sudden infant death syndrome.

About 40 percent of the 87 natural deaths were classified as SIDS, though the committee said some of those could have been misclassified.

Other fatalities included 62 unintentional injury deaths, such as drowning, fires and shootings, along with 23 homicides, 10 suicides and 17 from an undetermined cause. There also were six pending investigations.

"The good news is that the rates of preventable childhood deaths in all categories are going down," said Dr. Clay Nichols, a pathologist at Palmetto Health and the chairman of the committee.

In 2001, the State Law En-forcement Division reported 209 child deaths. In 1993, when the division began tracking the numbers, 277 deaths were reported.

In 2002, 18 deaths were from unintentional suffocation or strangulation, a 25 percent decrease from the previous year.

The committee recommended a public information campaign to educate the community about unsafe sleeping arrangements, including discouraging parents from sleeping with infants and the risks of placing infants face down when they sleep.

Other recommendations include teaching children how to swim.