Natural Deaths Over One Year of Age

Fact Sheet

In 2012, 13,804 children ages 1-17 died. Of those, 6,941 died from unintentional injury, homicide or suicide. The other 6,863 died from a manner of death that would be called “natural.” A death due to a natural cause can result from one (or more) of many serious health conditions. Congenital anomalies, genetic disorders (such as cystic fibrosis), cancers, heart and cerebral problems, serious infections and respiratory disorders such as asthma can be fatal to children.

Many of these conditions are not believed to be preventable in the same way that accidents, homicides or suicides are preventable. But there are some illnesses, such as asthma, infectious diseases and some screenable genetic disorders, for which, under certain circumstances, fatalities can and should be prevented. For example, deaths due to asthma are usually preventable. Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that involves episodes of the airways constricting from inflammation. Triggers for an asthmatic event include allergens, infections, exercise, changes in weather or exposure to airway irritants including tobacco smoke or pollution. Asthma affects approximately seven million children in the US. In 2009, 157 children under age 15 died from asthma.

Major Risk Factors

  • Children with congenital anomalies and other genetic disorders
  • Children who do not receive preventive medical care or adequate care for chronic/disabling conditions
  • Children who live in poverty
  • Children with chronic health conditions
  • Exposure to environmental hazards, especially of vulnerable children
  • Non-compliance with prescribed treatment regimens
  • Parental or caregiver failures to seek adequate medical attention

Records Needed for Case Review

  • Birth records
  • Pediatric records for well and sick visits
  • Death certificates
  • Hospital birth records
  • Emergency Department records
  • Public Health immunization records
  • Names, ages and genders of other children in home
  • Police reports
  • CPS reports on caregivers and child

Prevention goals

  • Assure children have access to adequate health care
  • Foster coordinated wrap-around services for chronically ill children and for children with disabilities.
  • Develop community education campaigns surrounding chronic health problems in children, such as asthma.
  • Ensure that schools are provided sufficient information and training for children with chronic health problems.
  • Conduct assessments and seek removal of suspected environmental health hazards.