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Research Article

Terminal symptoms in children dying suddenly and unexpectedly at home. Preliminary report of the DHSS multicentre study of postneonatal mortality.

Br Med J 1978; 2 doi: (Published 04 November 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;2:1249
  1. A N Stanton,
  2. M A Downham,
  3. J R Oakley,
  4. J L Emery,
  5. J Knowelden


    Terminal symptoms in 145 children who died suddenly and unexpectedly at home were investigated and compared with symptoms in 154 control children. Eighty-five (59%) of the children who died had had terminal symptoms, which in 69 cases (48%) appeared to have been major. Non-specific symptoms were especially common among the children who died. Symptoms were often present for several days before death. Only 12 of the 69 children who died with major symptoms had been seen by a doctor within 24 hours before death. We conclude that many deaths in young children might be prevented if doctors and parents were more aware of the importance of non-specific symptoms as markers of life-threatening illness.