According to the Arizona Department of Health Service’s (ADHS) annual Child Fatality Review Program Report released last week, Arizona’s child mortality rate increased by 4.7% in 2021.
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Of the 863 child deaths in the state in 2021—an increase from 838 child deaths in 2020—48% were determined to be preventable by local review teams. The majority of child deaths in 2021 were due to natural causes, 28% were due to accidental injuries, 5% were due to suicides, 5% were due to homicides, and 3% had undetermined causes of death.
Among infants aged 0-27 days, prematurity was the leading cause of death. Among children less than 1 year old, suffocation was the leading cause of death. For children 5-9 and 10-14 years old, motor vehicle crashes were the leading causes of death. For children 15-17 years old, firearm injuries were the leading cause of death.
Prematurity accounted for the majority of deaths in children aged 0-17, followed by congenital anomalies, motor vehicle crashes, firearm injuries, and poisoning.
The graph below shows the mortality rate per 100,000 children in Arizona between 2012 and 2021.
Almost 60% of child deaths were males, while nearly 47% were females.
The highest number of child deaths in 2021 were among Hispanic children, followed by white children, Black children, and American Indian children.
However, despite lower percentages of child deaths compared to white and Hispanic children, Black and American Indian children are overrepresented in this data. Despite only representing 6% of the state population, Black children accounted for 15% of child deaths in 2021, and despite representing 5% of the state population, American Indian children accounted for 8% of child deaths in 2021.
The report also highlights that Arizona’s abuse/neglect mortality rate increased 36.2% from 2020, representing 15% of all child deaths in 2021.
The report notes that Black and American Indian children were disproportionately represented in the abuse/neglect mortality rate. The graph below shows the percentage of abuse/neglect deaths among children in 2021 by race/ethnicity.
Black children in Arizona accounted for 27% of child deaths due to abuse/neglect while only representing 6% of the state population. American Indian children accounted for 5% of child deaths due to abuse/neglect while only representing 5% of the state population.
Substance use was a contributing factor in 59% of these deaths.
The report includes numerous recommendations for preventing child deaths, including increasing statewide awareness of the signs of potential child maltreatment to prevent deaths due to abuse or neglect, encouraging families to remove firearms from homes to prevent firearm-related deaths among children, and educating families on safe pedestrian practices to prevent deaths due to motor vehicle crashes among children.