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Archive for Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Report: Many child deaths preventable

January 7, 2003

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— The deaths of 136 Kansas children in 2000 could have been prevented, according to a new state report.

The report, issued by the Kansas Attorney General's Office and the state Child Death Review Board, has child advocates clamoring again for tougher seat-belt laws.

In Kansas in 2000, the most recent year for which figures are available, 521 children died before turning 18. Of those, 136 died as a result of traffic accidents, drowning, suffocation, fire and shootings.

The Child Death Review Board, which examines the circumstances of child deaths for trends and patterns, makes recommendations to the state.

The board concluded that the deaths could have been prevented through more education, better supervision and stricter laws.

Since 1994, the board said, 878 children's deaths could have been prevented.

Car crashes accounted for 86 of the 136 injury deaths in 2000.

In light of the report, the board recommends legislators expand the state's seat-belt law to require anyone younger than 18 years old to be belted up, regardless of where in a vehicle they are seated. Current law requires that of riders under 14.

The board also recommends that children under 8 years old or who weigh less than 80 pounds ride in a booster seat. Now, only children younger than 4 are required to use a booster seat.

Fines for violating seat-belt laws should be increased, too, the board said.

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