Baltimore, MD (December 12, 2014) –The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) today released a report showing that unexpected deaths of children in Maryland decreased from 302 in 2007 to 171 in 2013, a decline of 43%. Had the numbers of unexpected deaths remained at the 2007 level, more than 600 additional children would have died during this period.
“We've worked aggressively to save the lives of our youngest and most vulnerable,” said Governor O’Malley. "Through the work of our many partners to reduce infant mortality and reduce youth violence, we have provided a future to more than 600 children who otherwise may not have been here with us today. But we can not rest; there is still more work to be done. Only by making better choices can we achieve better results and save lives.”
Unexpected resident child deaths are determined each month by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME). The manner of these deaths is determined to be natural, homicide, suicide, accidental (including motor vehicle accidents), or undetermined. These cases are reviewed by multidisciplinary local teams overseen by a multi-agency state team to make recommendations that may prevent future deaths. Consistent with the trend in unexpected deaths, data from Vital Statistics also show an overall reduction in deaths among children in Maryland from 988 in 2007 to 696 in 2013, a decline of 29.5%.
“Fewer child deaths means fewer grieving parents, fewer families torn apart, and greater hope for the future,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and a pediatrician. “Many people, inside and outside the healthcare system, played an important role in achieving these results.”
Administration efforts that have driven the decline:
● Child Safety Seat Laws: Revised in 2008 and again in 2012, efforts are made to continually improve the safety of children riding in cars.
● Hospital Breastfeeding Policy Recommendations: Introduced in 2012, the administration continues to work with 32 birthing hospitals across the state to ensure education and support for women who choose to breastfeed. These effort continue to drive up the rates of breastfeeding in Maryland.
● Safe Sleep Initiative: Outreach with Baltimore City and other local jurisdictions have increased awareness of the ABCs of safe sleep: Babies sleep best Alone, on their Back and in a Crib.
● The Violence Prevention Initiative (VPI): The program was launched in 2007 to identify and track the state's most violent offenders in order to prevent repeat offenses including homicides. A Juvenile VPI was launched in 2008 that identifies and supervises youth that are considered at high risk of perpetrating a violent crime,
Recent efforts that are expected to contribute to further reductions in unexpected child deaths:
● Cell phone use, as primary offense, was signed into law in 2013.
● Jake's Law, in effect this year, increases penalties for people who cause an accident or injury while using a handheld mobile device.
● A crib bumper ban in 2013 makes it illegal to sell these in the state.
● The launch of the Pregnancy And Tobacco Cessation Help campaign (PATCH) in 2013 addresses and is expected to reduce smoking rates among pregnant women, women of childbearing age, and members of their households.
●The State Police Impaired Driving Effort (SPIDRE) was launched in mid 2013. The four year program is aimed at reducing the number of impaired driving crashes in Maryland.
The report can be found here