San Diego

State Health Department Trying to Account for Local Child Death Review Teams

NBC 7 Investigates Discovered Variations in Numbers of SIDS Cases Reported, something child death review teams track

The state health department is trying to determine how many California counties have active Child Death Review Teams after the state program was disbanded in 2008 due to budget cuts.

“The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) does not have an accurate count of the number of active local child death review teams (CDRTs) at this time,” Matt Conens with CDPH said in an email to NBC 7 Investigates. “In partnership with the Departments of Social Services and Justice, CDPH has designed a survey that is currently in the field to assess the status of local child death review teams, starting with whether they are currently functioning. CDPH expects to have this information prepared in a few months.”

NBC 7 Investigates found the state CDR team was disbanded in 2008 because of budget cuts and was never fully restored. Currently, there is an informal network among the county CDRTs.

According to the informal network’s website, 50 to 55 of the 58 counties have CDRTs, but a March 2016 state legislative bill analysis said there are only 22 local teams and most of them do not file annual reports.

Click here to read the report. 

One of the roles of the CDRTs was to investigate and track the number of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) deaths across the state.

According to local health experts, SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants under the age of one-year-old in the United States. Approximately 3,500 infants die annually in the U.S. from sleep-related deaths with about 1,500 of those from SIDS, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In SIDS cases, experts aren't able to identify the exact cause of death, making tracking even more complex.

NBC 7 Investigates found agencies which track SIDS deaths in San Diego, including the CDPH, report variations in the total number of deaths attributed to SIDS. CDPH could only provide SIDS data from 2010-2012. 

Click here to watch the complete investigation. 

Conens said the CDPH receives and collects data provided by some of the participating local CDRTs. In addition, he said, statewide SIDS tracking is done by the SIDS Program and Advisory Council, an administrative and coordinating body focused on training and support, review standards, recommendations and overall surveillance.

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