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Canadian Paediatric Society

Canada needs a comprehensive review system for child and youth deaths

Oct 3 2013

OTTAWA— The Canadian Paediatric Society is calling for a formal, standardized child death review (CDR) system for every region in Canada.

“Currently, only a few Canadian provinces or territories have formal child death review systems,” said Dr. Natalie Yanchar, co-author of the new statement and Chair of the CPS Injury Prevention Committee. “A standardized CDR would help us collect information around the circumstances of child and youth deaths so that we can better understand how and why children die.”

Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in Canadian children and youth. Other major causes of death include sudden death in infancy, congenital and medical disorders, suicide, and homicide. Although many deaths are preventable, there are currently no national standards for child death investigations in Canada.

“CDR is very well established in other countries, as well as some provinces in Canada, and there is now good data to show that the process actually works,” said Dr. Amy Ornstein, a co-author and paediatrician in Halifax. “Death review has provided valuable information around public health issues including safe sleep practices, suicide prevention, ATV safety, and others.”

A CDR system would allow stakeholders from multiple disciplines and agencies to share information and learn from each other. Ideally, it would lead to policies that prevent deaths and improve the overall health and safety of children and youth.

The CPS is calling for CDR that has:

  • Broad representation including: a regional chief medical examiner or coroner; representatives from law enforcement, child protective services, local public health; a crown attorney; a paediatrician, family physician and/or other health care provider
  • Structured processes for reporting trends
  • Linkable databases to allow meaningful data collection
  • A mechanism to report effectiveness of CDR follow-up and recommendations
  • Designated financial support by all levels of government


About the Canadian Paediatric Society

The Canadian Paediatric Society is a national advocacy association that promotes the health needs of children and youth. Founded in 1922, the CPS represents more than 3,300 paediatricians, paediatric subspecialists and other child health professionals across Canada.

Last updated: Oct 3 2013