2014 Volume 24 Issue 3 Pages 178-182
Background: There has been increasing interest in the formal review of child deaths in Japan. In this study we examined the causes and scene information regarding child deaths from injury in Tokyo, the capital of Japan, as preparation for implementation of a full-scale review of child deaths.
Methods: Documents on deaths from injury (excluding homicides) investigated by the Tokyo Medical Examiner’s Office during the period from 2006 through 2010 were reviewed. Deaths of children younger than 18 years (N = 217) were selected as the study sample. We examined the cause of and information on the death and were particularly interested in whether a case had preventable factors.
Results: Overall, 67% of the cases were deaths from unintentional injury. The main cause of death among children younger than 1 year was asphyxia, and the proportions of deaths from traffic accidents were higher in older age groups. Thirty percent of deaths from injury were due to suicide, and all cases of suicide were among children older than 10 years. Although analysis of preventable factors was difficult in some cases, owing to limited information on the death scene, 87% of deaths from unintentional injury, excluding those involving traffic accidents, had preventable factors.
Conclusions: Most unintentional child deaths from injury appear to be preventable. Development of a system to collect detailed information on the scene at the time of death will help decrease child deaths in Japan.