A detailed pathological and psychosocial study was made of all postperinatal (8 days-2 years) deaths in Sheffield during a 2-year period. The cause of death was classified from the point of view of possible prevention. Of the total of 65 deaths, 35 were unpreventable after the perinatal period, but 9 might have been preventable before birth. Of the 30 other deaths, 20 had evidence of possible treatable disease, and for the majority of these adverse social factors could be identified. Proved non-accidental injury occurred in 2 children and in 3 others there was a high degree of suspicion of 'gentle battering'. Only in 4 children was death unexplained and this apparently represents the local true unexplained cot death rate of 0.16/1000 births.
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