Availability of death review of children using death certificates and forensic autopsy results

Eisuke Ito, Masahito Hitosugi, Yoshihiro Maruo, Mami Nakamura, Marin Takaso, Akane Masumitsu, Mineko Baba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Model Project for Child Death Review (CDR) was initiated in Japan, but parental consent is required for detailed investigations. We proposed an alternative method to review child deaths using death certificates and forensic autopsy results when parental consent is not provided. We extracted and reviewed death certificates for the deceased younger than 18 years from among all certificates submitted in Shiga Prefecture between 2015 and 2017. In addition, we analyzed autopsy records in cases that underwent forensic autopsy. The prevalence of each cause of death was compared among age groups. The situation and circumstances of unnatural deaths were analyzed in detail. Of 131 certificates, unnatural deaths accounted for 29.7 %. The prevalence of each cause of death significantly differed among age groups. Malignant disease and suicide were most common in school-aged children and congenital disease was most common in infants. Suicide was the leading cause of unnatural death, followed by suffocation, which was most common in infants. Situations where suffocation was reported included co-sleeping with the mother and breastfeeding. Despite parental consent not being obtained, the trends of regional child deaths and the circumstances of accidental deaths were clarified by the present method. However, the results of detailed investigation were lacking. This study provided basic information for implementing detailed methods and procedures for CDR at the governmental level. To perform optimal CDR, legislation for collecting detailed information without parental consent is required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102156
JournalLegal Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Feb


  • Child Death Review (CDR)
  • Death certificate
  • Forensic autopsy
  • Preventable child death
  • Sleeping environment
  • Suffocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects


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