Background and aims Paediatric palliative care is an essential aspect of medical practice for patients who need end-of-life attendance. The better understanding of the main death causes allows to anticipate the future complications in the final stage. The aim is to describe the epidemiology and characteristics of deaths at childhood in Catalonia and specifically in a tertiary paediatric hospital.
Methods Review data from the National Statistics Institute (http://pestadistico.inteligenciadegestion.msssi.es) on mortality of people aged 0–19 years old, during the period from 2007 to 2011. Analyse the main general causes of death by ICD (International Code of Disease) collected in death certificate and compare them with our experience.
Results During the period from 2007 to 2011, a total of 2.282 deaths were registered in Catalonia (59% males, 41% females). The mortality rate varies by age (Graph 1). In Catalonia the most frequent causes of death were conditions originated in the perinatal period (COPP) (27%), external causes (18%), congenital malformations (15%) and neoplasms (11%)(Table 1). The epidemiological study in our centre shows that 487 patients died in this period. The mean age was 3.5 years. According to sex, 47% were female and 53% male. The average length of hospitalisation was 12 days (range: 1–167 days). In our hospital, the most frequent causes of death in inpatients were COPP (45%), diseases of the respiratory system (17%) and neoplasms (15%)(Graph 2).
Conclusions In accordance with the literature, during the first year there is a peak in the mortality rate. In this period the main causes of death are COPP and congenital malformations. In adolescence the main causes of death are external causes and malignancy. In our hospital, almost a half of the total deaths occur in the first month of life due to COPP. Every centre should know his epidemiology of the main causes of death.