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Challenges of research using data from child death overview panels
  1. Joanna Garstang1,2
  1. 1Division of Mental Health and Wellbeing, Warwick Medical School, Coventry, UK
  2. 2Children and Family Division, Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joanna Garstang, Division of Mental Health and Wellbeing, Warwick Medical School, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK; joanna.j.garstang{at}warwick.ac.uk

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The UK has a higher mortality for children from birth to 5 years old compared with most other countries in Western Europe,1 and this has been recognised as a national priority by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. Learning from child deaths is one part of the process by which we could start to address this issue. The paper by Firth et al highlights how data from child death overview panels (CDOPs) can be used to provide fresh understanding of why so many children in the UK die prematurely. Their analysis of CDOP data has shown the excess infant mortality in Bradford associated with congenital anomalies in babies born to consanguineous parents of Pakistani origin. This conclusion would have been considerably more difficult without the detailed information available from CDOP analysis of individual cases. Death certification can only give the medical cause for death, whereas CDOP considers broader factors and vulnerabilities including those directly relating to the child themselves, and social, familial and environmental considerations and the provision of services. Accurate identification of high-risk populations can therefore allow appropriate targeting of interventions, whether these are public health initiatives or safety campaigns.

Firth et al2 have shown one use of CDOP data from a local project. CDOP data have huge potential nationally to increase our understanding of why children die …

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