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Childhood Fatalities in New Mexico: Medical Examiner-Investigated Cases, 20002010


  • Sarah L. Lathrop D.V.M., Ph.D.

    Corresponding author
    • Office of the Medical Investigator, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, NM
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  • Presented in part at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, October 29–November 2, 2011, in Washington DC.

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Sarah L. Lathrop, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Pathology

Office of the Medical Investigator

University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center

MSC07 4040

1 University of New Mexico

Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001



To better understand risk factors and populations at risk of childhood fatalities, a review of all records of childhood deaths (≤19 years) between 2000 and 2010 from New Mexico's statewide medical examiner was conducted. Annually, 313–383 childhood deaths were investigated (3820 total). Males and American Indians were overrepresented (62% and 20.4% of deaths, respectively). The most common manner of death was natural (44.8%), followed by accidental (31.4%), homicide (8.8%), suicide (8.8%), and undetermined (4.1%). Infants under 1 year of age accounted for 41.4% of deaths. Motor vehicle crashes were responsible for the majority of accidental deaths (69%), followed by unintentional overdoses (6.9%), and drowning (5.3%). Gunshot wounds, either intentional or unintentional, caused 10.7% of childhood deaths. Complete medico-legal investigation of childhood fatalities is needed to provide public health agencies with adequate data to evaluate and prevent childhood deaths.

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