‘Unexplained Pediatric Deaths’ offers critical guidance in the investigation of sudden, unexplained pediatric deaths and providing for the needs of families in the aftermath
(ROSELAND, N.J.) — NEWS: The SUDC Foundation recently published a first-of-its kind book, “Unexplained Pediatric Deaths: Investigation, Certification and Family Needs” (ISBN: 978-0998904320) a collaboration between the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which establishes the first ever national consensus guidelines in the U.S. to fill crucial needs to determine why unexplained pediatric deaths happen and how to support families after these tragedies.
Each year in the U.S., over 3,000 infants and children who are otherwise apparently healthy, die suddenly and without explanation. These deaths not only have profound effects on families, but also serious implications for our public health system. Currently, no national standards for investigating these deaths exist, severely handicapping our ability to understand and prevent them in the future.
“The devastating loss of a child is compounded when we cannot explain how that precious life ended,” said Elizabeth Bundock, M.D., Ph.D., Deputy Chief Medical Examiner for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Burlington, Vermont and one of the editors of the book. “While many of these unexplained deaths expose the limits of our collective medical knowledge, ideally, none should expose shortcomings in our effort to identify the cause of death.”
Bundock adds, “The medicolegal investigation of a child death is complex, requiring the meticulous attention of multiple professionals who bring to bear special techniques and resources. Variability in the medicolegal response is inevitable and flexibility is essential. However, the guidance provided in Unexplained Pediatric Deaths can move the U.S. closer to a consistently comprehensive approach.”
“Over the last two decades, I have spoken to over 1,000 families who lost seemingly healthy, thriving children suddenly, unexpectedly and most often without answers as to why,” said Laura Gould Crandall, Co-founder and President of the Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood Foundation and one of the authors of the book. “These families deserve better than our current system provides. Without the improvements included in this book, we cannot truly know how many children are dying, we cannot perform the ideal research to understand and prevent them, and we cannot fully support families through their grief. We are so thankful to the authors of this book, especially the lead editors Dr. Elizabeth Bundock and Dr. Tracey Corey, for dedicating their expertise and diligently guiding our collective group of multidisciplinary collaborators to fix a broken system for the betterment of all children.”
“This book draws on the experience and insight of dozens of experts from around the country,” said Tracey Corey, M.D., Associate Medical Examiner for Florida Districts 5 & 24 and one of the editors of the book. “Each guideline was developed based on extensive research, historical context and sound rationale. Implementing them will advance the way we investigate these deaths, arming us with a system that will help us better determine why these deaths happen and support those we serve.”
“This book represents the state-of-the art on our knowledge and assessment of sudden pediatric deaths, representing the cumulative wisdom of leading experts across diverse medical and scientific disciplines,” said Orrin Devinsky, M.D., of New York University Langone Health and one of the authors of the book. “The experience of affected parents has greatly strengthened the value and sensitivity of this extraordinary effort.”
“Unexplained Pediatric Deaths: Investigation, Certification and Family Needs” establishes the first national consensus guidelines to address the shortfalls in our current death investigation system. It outlines procedural guidance for a comprehensive investigation and autopsy and provides guidance to promote consistent classification of unexplained pediatric deaths, which greatly impacts our ability to understand how often they occur. It also offers recommendations for the care of families after such tragedies. Adoption of these guidelines is critical to achieve a better understanding of these deaths, successful public health prevention strategies and appropriate care of the bereaved.
“Unexplained Pediatric Deaths” began when the SUDC Foundation awarded a grant to NAME to work in collaboration with the AAP to convene an expert panel to identify and discuss these critical issues. The publication is a combined effort of a panel of medical examiners, pediatricians and federal agency representatives who represent the diverse interests of epidemiology, death investigation, autopsy performance, death certification, clinical subspecialties (neurology, cardiology, child abuse, injury prevention, infectious diseases, genetics and metabolic diseases), family needs, prevention and research.
To read a more detailed summary, please visit: https://sudc.org/education-resources/media-resources.
To learn more about the book and view a full list of authors available for interviews throughout the U.S., please visit https://sudpeds.com/.
About the SUDC Foundation:
The SUDC Foundation is the only organization worldwide whose purpose is to promote awareness, advocate for research and support those affected by SUDC. The SUDC Foundation provides all services at no cost to families. SUDC is a category of death in children over the age of 1 year which remains unexplained after a thorough investigation and autopsy.
To learn more about SUDC and the SUDC Foundation, please visit https://sudc.org/.
Related link: https://sudc.org/
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