Chapter 18. The Death of a Child

  1. Kate Thomson MBBS, FRACP General Paediatrician3,4,
  2. Dean Tey MBBS Allergy and Immunology Fellow5 and
  3. Michael Marks MBBS, MPH, MD, FRACP Paediatrician Senior Lecturer6,7
  1. Peter McDougall MB, BS, FRACP, MBA Chief of Medicine Director of Neonatology,
  2. Jenny Hynson MBBS, FRACP Consultant Paediatrician1 and
  3. Mary O'Toole BA, BSW, Grad Dip. Creative Arts Therapy2

Published Online: 17 MAR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444308051.ch18

Paediatric Handbook, Eighth Edition

Paediatric Handbook, Eighth Edition

How to Cite

McDougall, P., Hynson, J. and O'Toole, M. (2009) The Death of a Child, in Paediatric Handbook, Eighth Edition (eds K. Thomson, D. Tey and M. Marks), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444308051.ch18

Editor Information

  1. 3

    Department of Developmental Medicine, Sunshine Hospital, Victoria, Australia

  2. 4

    Emergency Department, Sunshine Hospital, Victoria, Australia

  3. 5

    Department of Allergy and Immunology, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

  4. 6

    Department of General Medicine, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

  5. 7

    Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Author Information

  1. 1

    Victorian Paediatric Palliative Care Program, Australia

  2. 2

    Bereavement Services Coordinator, Australia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 17 MAR 2009
  2. Published Print: 13 FEB 2009

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405174008

Online ISBN: 9781444308051



  • death of child - intense grieving process lasting for years;
  • way in which difficult information is communicated - sets stage for working relationship between staff and family;
  • healthcare team to be sensitive to parents' needs and watch for misunderstandings;
  • communicating with children about death and dying;
  • sudden unexpected death;
  • brain death - irreversible cessation of brain function including that of brain stem;
  • neonatal death or death of infant - advice to breast-feeding mother for suppression of lactation;
  • parental grief following death of child and ongoing support;
  • sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI);
  • apparent life-threatening episode (ALTE)


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Before death

  • Sudden unexpected death

  • After death

  • Follow-up

  • Sudden infant death syndrome

  • Apparent life-threatening episode

  • Home apnoea monitoring