n South African Journal of Child Health - Childhood and adolescent fatalities at the Pretoria Medico-Legal Laboratory : 2005 - 2009 : research

Volume 10, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1994-3032
  • E-ISSN: 1999-7671



Children and young adults are particularly vulnerable to intentional and accidental fatal injuries. The majority of deaths in Africa in children <5 years of age are due to infectious diseases. Road traffic fatalities constitute a large proportion of deaths in children and young adults worldwide.

To evaluate the demographic details, external cause/circumstance of death and manner of death in children and young adults admitted to the Pretoria Medico-Legal Laboratory (PMLL).
A retrospective case audit was conducted on all persons aged 1 - 20 years admitted to the PMLL from January 2005 through December 2009.
A total of 965 cases were identified. Childhood deaths constituted 7 - 9% of all cases admitted. The majority were aged between 16 and 20 years (42%), followed by children aged between 1 and 5 years (33%). The most common cause of death was injury due to road traffic accidents (this was present in all age groups).
Children and young adults contribute a relatively large number of admissions to the medico-legal mortuary. The majority of these deaths are accidental. Many of the accidents could have been prevented with stricter legislation with regard to transportation of children and safety surrounding swimming pools.

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