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Report: Hundreds of child deaths in Arizona could have been prevented

Many of the 301 children who died in Arizona last year could still be alive.

That number, from a report by the Arizona Child Fatality Review Program, is 39 percent of the 768 total deaths of children under 18 throughout the state last year.

Among the preventable causes of death included suffocation, which was the cause of death for 52 infants.

“This occurs commonly from sharing beds or having the child sleep in an unsafe sleep place, like a crib that has bumpers and extra pillows,” said Dr. Mary Rimsza, pediatrician and chairwoman of the Arizona Child Fatality Review Program.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a safe sleep environment for children, including the use of a firm sleep surface and avoiding soft bedding and overheating.

Child deaths due to child abuse and neglect rose from 75 in 2014 to 87 in 2015. Rimsza explained that was the highest number they’ve ever seen in that category. Other preventable causes of death included child suicides, firearm fatalities, drowning and motor vehicle crashes.

“We hope this will increase attention to the causes of child deaths, so that parents and people who set policy in the state will be aware of what actions they can take,” Rimsza said.

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