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What happens when a child dies?

Child Death Reviews

Since April 2008 there has been a statutory requirement (in England) to review all child deaths. It is vital that all child deaths are carefully reviewed so that we may learn as much as possible from them in order to better support families and prevent future deaths. The death of a child normally resident in Telford & Wrekin is reviewed by the joint Shropshire/Telford & Wrekin Overview Panel on behalf of the Local Safeguarding Children Board. The panel meets on a regular basis to review all of the child deaths in their area. The panel is not given any names of the child who has died; all the details are dealt with anonymously. The panel has representation from:

  • Public Health
  • Local child health and social care services
  • Police
  • And any other professional to give specialist advice where needed

If the child’s death is sudden and unexpected then maybe a multi-agency response to help ensure a sensitive investigation into why the child has died takes place.

A Guide for Parents and Carers regarding the child death review is available via The Lullaby Trust.

National themes from Child Death Reviews

Reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Cot Death)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby where no cause is found. While SIDS is rare, it can still happen and there are steps parents can take to help reduce the chance of this tragedy occurring. Parents should try to follow the advice for all sleep periods where possible, not just at night.

Things you can do Things to avoid
  • always place your baby on their back to sleep
  • keep your baby smoke free during pregnancy and after birth
  • place your baby to sleep in a separate cot or moses basket in the same room as you for the first 6 months
  • breastfeed your baby
  • use a firm, flat, waterproof mattress in good condition
  • never sleep on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby
  • don't sleep in the same bed as your baby if you smoke, drink, take drugs or are extremely tired, if your baby was born prematurely or was of low birth-weight
  • avoid letting your baby get too hot
  • don't cover your baby's face or head while sleeping or use loose bedding

To avoid accidents remove all pillows, soft bedding, cot bumpers and soft toys from the cot.

Further information on things you can do and things to avoid can be found in the ‘My personal child health record’ (red book) and via The Lullaby Trust.

Preventing death and injury from accidents

Useful information can also be found on the Child Accident Prevention Trust website.

Bereavement Support

The family should be offered support via their GP, Health or Social Care professional. The following national organisations can also offer support and advice in specific areas.

Tel: 0500 618 140
Support, including after bereavement, for the family of a premature/baby who has been in special care/SCBU.
Childhood Bereavement Network
Tel: 020 7843 6309
Information and advice about local and national services to support bereaved children and young people
Child Death Helpline
Tel: 0800 282986
For anyone affected by the death of a child of any age from any cause.
The Compassionate Friends
Tel: 0845 123 2304
Support for bereaved parents and their families
The Lullaby Trust
Tel: 0808 802 6868
Support to anyone following the sudden and unexpected death of their baby or young toddler
Tel: 020 7436 5881
Supporting anyone affected by the death of a baby
Winston’s Wish
Tel: 08452 030405
Help and advice in supporting a bereaved child
Child Bereavement UK
Tel: 0800 028 8840
Supports families and educates professionals when a baby or child dies or is dying, or when a child is facing bereavement

For further information regarding Child Death Reviews please contact Alison Wood, Lead Nurse Child Death Overview Process – Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust.