AIM: Specialised paediatric palliative care has not previously been a priority in Denmark. The aim of this study was to support its development and organisation, by examining why and where children died using official national data for 1994-2014.
METHODS: We obtained data on 9462 children who died before the age of 18 from the Danish Register of Causes of Death. The causes of deaths were listed according to the codes in the International Classification of Diseases.
RESULTS: The all-cause mortality rate decreased by 52% over the study period, and infants below one year accounted for 61% of all deaths. The decline in infant mortality (26%) primarily reflected fewer deaths due to congenital malformations and chromosomal abnormalities (68%) and perinatal deaths (30%). In children aged one year to 17 years, the substantial decrease (65%) was due to external causes (75%) and neoplasms (57%). The relative proportion of hospital deaths increased, while home deaths decreased.
CONCLUSION: All-cause mortality rate decreased markedly, and the relative proportion of hospital deaths increased. The results may reflect more aggressive and effective treatment attempts to save lives, but some terminally ill children may be deprived of the option of dying at home.