Background: Child fatality review (CFR) by interagency teams can contribute to the prevention of childhood deaths. We investigated the potential usefulness of Georgia's CFR, legislated in 1990 primarily to prevent death from child maltreatment, for identifying preventable deaths from injury and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Methods: Using CFR report data and death certificate data, we examined reviewed and nonreviewed childhood deaths in Georgia in 1991 and examined data by etiology, county, risk factors, and preventability.
Results: Injury or SIDS caused 33.2% of childhood deaths in Georgia in 1991; CFR reviewed 29.4% of these. Child fatality review was most sensitive for investigating death from intentional injury (40.5%) and SIDS (35.3%). Review teams reassigned the cause of five deaths (2.0%) to child abuse or neglect. County participation was low (31.4%). Overall, 29.0% of deaths were judged preventable.
Conclusions: Georgia's CFR has potential for identifying preventable childhood deaths. Refinements in the system can increase the number and accuracy of death investigations. By participating in the system, physicians may make meaningful contributions to preventing childhood death in their own communities.