By Hazel Gaines, MS, RN

Once again, Mississippi is the state with the highest rate of child deaths in the nation. The average rate for the country, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics available (2007), is 19 child deaths for every 100,000 children age birth to 14 years. The rate for Mississippi is almost twice that: 34 child deaths for every 100,000 children under age 15.

Mississippi’s Child Death Review Panel (CDRP) has been working since 2006 to bring down the number of preventable child deaths by determining why and how Mississippi children die. Operating under the auspices of the Mississippi State Department of Health, the CDRP works with over 20 state agencies, community organizations, and professional organizations to coordinate a review of unexpected child deaths from birth to age 18, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The CDRP issues a report for the previous year each December detailing the causes of the deaths of Mississippi children, and making recommendations for ways to decrease those deaths.

The latest CDRP Report details the causes of 278 deaths of the total 709 child deaths statewide in 2008. The 709 deaths in 2008 are a significant drop from the 745 child deaths reported for 2006 and the 765 deaths reported for 2007. Harrison and Rankin Counties had the highest number of child deaths at 17 and 13 respectively. Hinds County reported 11 child deaths, and Lincoln, Pearl River, Scott, Warren and Washington Counties each reported 8 deaths.

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