Medico-legal child deaths in Istanbul: data from the Morgue Department

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Abstract

Background

Before determining health policies, finding solutions to problems and taking precautions, one should define the problems and their regional and national dimensions. Data about causes of death vary from country to country and, therefore, it is clear that precautions should be based on regional data and needs, which will be more effective.

Method

The authors reviewed deaths among children aged 1 month to 18 years, whose autopsies were performed in the Morgue Department, State Institute of Forensic Medicine, Istanbul, Turkey, between 2000 and 2002.

Results

The authors evaluated autopsy reports about 736 child deaths. The mean age of the children was 8.77 ± 6.25 years and 62.8% of the children were male. As to causes of death, the most frequent was asphyxia. Almost half of them were caused by mechanical asphyxia due to drowning. A total of 48.5% of the deaths were accidental. There was a significant difference in causes of death between children aged 11 years or younger and those aged over 11 years. Death due to nontraumatic conditions and poisoning was predominant among children aged 11 years and younger, while death due to gunshot wounds and stab wounds was predominant among children aged more than 11 years. There was a significant difference in causes of death between females and males.

Conclusion

Asphyxia, poisoning and blunt traumatic injuries were found to be the leading causes of death, which can be prevented or decreased by certain precautions. As a result, new regulations should be enacted to protect children against accidents, injuries and hazards and a child protection program is needed in Turkey.

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