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Autopsies for crib deaths

Published on 24/05/2007

24 May 2007

BRUSSELS – From 1 July autopsies will be performed on all children under the age of 18 months who die unexpectedly and for reasons that cannot be explained medically. The measure is aimed at keeping tabs on crib death in Belgium, medical weekly Huisarts reported on Thursday.

The so-called “autopsy act,” in which the measure is included, dates from 26 March 2003. The act does allow parents to refuse an autopsy.

If they agree to a post-mortem, it must take place as soon as possible, taking into account the wishes of the family. The body will be brought to the crib death centre at a general hospital. Counseling must also be available for the parents and other family members.

Until now health insurance companies have only covered the costs of an autopsy if the child has died after being admitted to hospital. The new law however explicitly states that parents will in no event be required to pay for these costs.

The cause of death will only be reported on the death certificate as “crib death” if an autopsy report has been produced. The number of crib deaths has been on the decline; Public Health Minister Rudy Demotte estimates there are about 70 cases a year.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Belgian news