Program Contact

Dennis Klein, MD
Chief State Medical Examiner
Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner
2250 S. Ankeny Blvd.
Ankeny, IA 50023
Phone: 515-725-1400
Fax: 515-725-1414


Program Description

The State of Iowa Child Death Review Team was established in 1995 by Statute, 641-90.1 et seq. The Team had an initial annual budget of $28,000. Funding for the program came from the Department of Public Health’s MCH Block grant ($8,000) and state general funds ($20,000). Funding is year-to-year. In the spring of 2009, the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner (IOSME) was assigned the coordination of the team with no funding or staff due to state budget cuts. The IOSME currently has one fulltime and two part-time staff members assigned to assist the Team Coordinator with case review and team management.

Iowa has a state review team.

State Team Chairperson: Meghan Harris, Ed.D.
The team is comprised of 14 official members and six state department liaisons. The team meets at least four times per year. The State Team has participated in legislative hearings, educational presentations and published articles in professional journals.

The Iowa CDR team reviews deaths of children 17 and under.

The purpose of Iowa’s CDR Program is education and prevention.

Standardized data reporting forms are completed for all reviews. The collection of data is not required by legislation or policy, but is needed for their annual report. Iowa CDR has access to state vital records. Vital records (birth and death certificates) are used to identify child deaths and for background checks. CDR data are stored on a computer file and in hard copy for three years. The data are analyzed using frequency distributions by manner and cause.

Annual Report
Iowa does produce an annual report. The report is on the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner’s website. Recommendations are sent to the Governor and legislature. The report is distributed to the Governor, legislature, state agencies, law enforcement and county attorneys.

Prevention Initiatives
Iowa CDR efforts have influenced change. Statewide examples of this include an influence on proposed legislation, coordination of CDR data with the Iowa SIDS Foundation and changes in the length of sentences for criminals who kill a child. Examples of how CDR findings have motivated prevention activities include the distribution of SIDS brochures, posters and videos to child care providers and educational materials on bed-sharing. This effort has been evaluated for effectiveness. Evaluation efforts consisted of a hospital survey that measured data from 2001 through 2002. The data showed that in 2001, nine out of 93 hospitals placed babies in their newborn nurseries to sleep on their backs and in 2002 (after brochures had been distributed), nearly all reporting hospitals placed babies on their backs except for those with medical reasons requiring a different sleep position.

Iowa CDR has confidentiality and child death investigation protocols in place.

Iowa CDR provides training on child abuse and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Funding is not currently available.

Last Updated: February 2018