Dallas County Child Death Review Team

A 2 month-old infant is found unresponsive and face down in bed with his mother and father. The infant had been sick, and his parents put him in bed with them so they could check on him. The parents fell asleep and rolled over onto the infant and suffocated the child.

A 9-1-1 dispatcher received a call that a 1 year-old female was non-responsive. When emergency medical services arrived at the scene, the child was dead. The boyfriend of the child’s mother admitted to shaking the child multiple times and throwing the child against the wall “because she wouldn’t stop crying.”

While driving to a party with two friends in the car, a 16 year-old loses control of his vehicle and hits a concrete pole. The driver was traveling 60 m.p.h. on a road with a 45 m.p.h. posted speed limit. The driver was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle. 

In 2006, over 33,000 children age 0-17 died in the United States.  Thirty-two percent of these child deaths were due to natural causes, while 69% resulted from injuries and were therefore preventable. 1 

But what if we could prevent these tragedies before they ever happened?

Child Death Review is a mechanism to describe the causes and circumstances of death among our children. The Dallas County Child Death Review Team (CDRT) is a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency that reviews the deaths of children and adolescents 0 – 17 years of age in Dallas County. Founded in 1992, the Dallas County CDRT was one of the first local teams to review child and adolescent fatalities in the state of Texas. The team meets under Chapter 264 of the Texas Family Code. Each year the team reviews over 400 deaths to children in Dallas County.

More than just a data collection system

A unique feature of Dallas County CDRT is the capacity and interest to analyze the data and research trends.  In 2008, the CDRT noticed a pattern of child deaths related to bed sharing. Bed sharing in conjunction with infants sleeping on their stomachs or sleeping outside of a crib has been shown to have an association with unexplained infant deaths.

In an effort to put the data to work, the IPC initiated a study to determine the prevalence of bed sharing among infants less than one year of age in Dallas County and factors associated with infant bed sharing. They implemented a self-administered survey of parents regarding their infant’s sleep pattern. Parents were asked to complete the survey for their infant while waiting to see their medical provider. Surveys were conducted at a sample of large public and private pediatric practices in Dallas County. Additional information about the study can be found here.

1 National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System. 10 Leading Causes of Death, United States: 2006, all races, both sexes, age<1-17 years.  AtlantaGA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center of Injury Prevention and Control, Office of Statistics and Programming, 2009  Available by Clicking Here.


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