A new team will begin reviewing unexpected deaths of infants and children in many Arkansas counties, including Saline, in an effort to determine factors that may have caused or contributed to the deaths.
This will be the sixth team to participate in the state's Infant and Child Death Review Program, which is required by Act 1818 of 2005. The act mandates a review all unexpected deaths of children under the age of 18.
The team and program are overseen by the Injury Prevention Center at Arkansas Children's Hospital.
The counties under review by this new team, in addition to Saline, are: Arkansas, Garland, Grant, Hot Spring and Jefferson.
Additional teams are reviewing cases in the following counties: Benton, Clay, Conway, Craighead, Crawford, Faulkner, Franklin, Greene, Johnson, Lawrence, Logan, Mississippi, Perry, Poinsett, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Scott, Sebastian, Van Buren, Washington and Yell.
Dr. Pamela Tabor, director of the Infant and Child Death Review Program, said, "Expansion of this program enables us to review more cases and thus more accurately track trends and develop targeted prevention strategies. This will be the team that is farthest south in the state covering five counties with very diverse populations."
Tabor says the program's main focus is preventing deaths.
The teams are made up of representatives from local coroner's offices or the State Medical Examiner's Office; local law enforcement; prosecuting attorney's offices; Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division; Department of Human Services Division of Children and Family Services; Department of Health; emergency medical services; and a medical professional. Additional specialists such as injury prevention and pediatric forensic doctors consult on cases.
Kevin Cleghorn, a deputy coroner for Saline County, said he is hopeful that this program will help save the life of a child in this and neighboring counties in the future.
"I've seen firsthand how devastating the loss of a child can be for a family," he said. "If this team can identify some trends in these counties and then put some measures in place to prevent other families from experiencing that grief, this will be worth the effort."
Since the start of the program, Tabor said teams have completed 97 reviews and determined that the top three causes of death are sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), motor vehicle collisions and other transportation injuries, and weapons. In the SIDS cases, reviews showed that in about a the a third of cases, unsafe sleep environments caused or contributed to the death.
For more information on how to prevent infant and child injuries and death, visit the Arkansas Children's Hospital Injury Prevention Center's website at www.archildrens.org/Services/Injury-Prevention-Center.aspx.