INVESTIGATIONS into child deaths across Dorset have dropped from 34 to 25 between April 2018 to March 2019, compared with the previous year.

Thirteen of those lived in rural Dorset, the rest in the conurbation. Of the 25 deaths which were reviewed by the county’s child death overview panel 13 were expected and 12 unexpected.

In more than half of all the cases factors which could have resulted in a different outcome were identified – including alcohol use, smoking by mothers during pregnancy and by other family members in the household, and maternal obesity.

Serious case reviews held during the period looked at a number of cases where abuse or neglect had resulted in serious harm or death.

In one case the mother of a child killed in a road accident had been three times over the alcohol limit while another investigation involved a 16 year old who was a looked after child who died after ingesting illicit drugs.

Two cases currently underway include an investigation into the death of a young child with a chronic medical condition and a teenager who died at home.

The pan-Dorset child death overview panel merged in July with its counterpart in Somerset.