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Infant Death Investigators To Receive Specialized Training

Armen Hareyan's picture

Child Fatality

Child Fatality Review Team recommended that child fatality investigations must be conducted in a consistent manner by qualified professionals to avoid missing valuable information and trends.

Experts from across Indiana will visit Corydon, Ind., May 30-31, for the first training of its kind in the state on the specialized knowledge required in infant death investigations. Proper investigations will help determine the cause and manner of death in the cases of sudden, unexpected death of children, including cases of abuse.

Attendees for the training include local officials from law enforcement, child protective services, coroners and prosecutors. Counties to be represented are Clark, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Floyd, Harrison, Jefferson, Orange, Perry, Scott, Spencer and Washington. Antoinette Laskey, MD, MPH, forensic pediatrician with Riley Hospital for Children and the Indiana University School of Medicine will lead the training team.

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"Child fatalities are often not recognized as abuse or neglect for various reasons," said Laskey, also chair of the INCFRT. "These reasons might include inadequate death scene investigations, failure to complete autopsies when appropriate, lack of cooperation among agencies, or incorrect data collection."

In June 2005, Laskey and her colleagues participated in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) inaugural Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Investigation (SUIDI) Train-the-Trainer Academy. There they were given hands-on instruction for conducting state-based training sessions in SUIDI. Now, they are transferring their knowledge to investigators from southern Indiana.

"Using this nationally endorsed, standard protocol and a common language, we can improve the accuracy of infant death investigations," said Laskey. "If we learn why our children are dying, we will be better equipped to prevent future deaths."

"The accuracy in child death investigations has significantly improved in counties and states across the country that have child fatality review teams. We're trying to build several teams here in southern Indiana," added Laskey.

Key components of the training include interviewing skills and best practices for communications with other team members involved in a death investigation.

The training team will provide lectures, hands-on laboratory training, dolls for death scene reenactments, text books and scene guides.