Youth Suicide 20130926

B.C. Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe speaks about the B.C. Coroners Service report on child and youth suicide last month. A Canadian Pediatric Society panel called for child death reviews that include coroners, police, prosecutors, child protective services, local public health officials and doctors. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Deaths of children and young people in the U.S. from causes such as heart disease or epilepsy will be added to a national registry, but such a registry is in its infancy in Canada, pediatricians say.  
 
On Thursday, the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the launch of a registry to collect comprehensive information on sudden unexpected deaths in youth up to age of 24 in as many as 15 states or major cities. 
 
The registry will be a resource for scientists to learn more about the causes of sudden death in the young, with the aim of developing better diagnostic and prevention approaches.  
 
Earlier this month, the Canadian Pediatric Society's injury prevention committe published a position statement that called for formal, organized child and youth death reviews in every region of Canada to help strengthen injury and death prevention efforts. 
 
"The process of child and youth death review is much more entrenched in the United States than it is Canada," said Dr. Amy Ornstein, a co-author of the statement and a consultant pediatrician in Halifax. 
 
There are currently no national standards for child death investigations in Canada. 
 
"For the health and safety of our children and youth, this should be something that is important in all regions in the country," Ornstein said.  
 
Some provinces, such as B.C and Ontario, have death reviews for certain age groups. But since child deaths are so rare, many cases need to be collected to try to identify any meaningful similarities between cases before coming up with recommendations for prevention, Ornstein said.  
 
Previous child death reviews in Canada resulted in recommendations in areas such as safe cribs, water safety, smoke detectors and how teachers should respond to students experiencing a mental health crisis.  
 
The Canadian pediatric group is seeking a child and death review that includes linkable databases and  designated financial support from all levels of government. 
 
In the U.S., state public health agencies will be able to apply to the CDC to participate in the registry in 2014.