Twenty-five juvenile deaths were investigated in Johnston County last year, according to a report from the Johnston County Child Fatality Prevention Team (CFPT). Kathleen Lanc, CFPT Review Coordinator, presented the annual report to Johnston County Commissioners this month.
The deaths investigated included 10 infants who died due to premature births, 3 fatalities in motor vehicle accidents, 7 fatal illnesses, 2 accidental home fires, one choking death, one homicide, and one suicide.
Eight deaths were reported among children ages 1-4; two deaths from ages 5-9; four deaths among 10-14 year olds; and one death age 15-17.
The team’s findings and recommendations included “initiatives to promote early and consistent prenatal care.” Additionally, the report suggested existing agencies should support programs and initiatives for the prevention of childhood trauma and the promotion of childhood safety. And more education was needed in the areas of how to prevent Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS) and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Specifically, the team’s report suggested more focus needs to be placed on unsafe sleeping conditions that include co-sleeping or bed-sharing with infants as well as infant sleep spaces that have blankets, pillows, wedges or other items. The lack of working smoking detectors in homes and choking hazards also contributed to infant deaths last year in Johnston County, according to the CFPT report.
The task force is mandated by the NC General Assembly to investigate the deaths of youth to determine if their deaths were the results of abuse or neglect, and to understand the causes in an effort to prevent future deaths. The annual report is forwarded to the state to determine if there were any gaps or deficiencies in the delivery of services to children and their families by public agencies. The state will review the findings to see if any changes are needed to laws, rules or policies that will support the safety and healthy development of children while preventing abuse, neglect and death.
The Johnston County Fatality Prevention Team was established in 1991.