WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Child deaths hit a record low in 2021, according to a report released Tuesday by the State Child Death Review Board of Kansas.

The annual report analyzed the deaths of Kansas children that occurred in 2021, which is the most recent year data is available.

The report showed Kansas had 349 child fatalities in 2021, down from 365 in 2020. The overall child death rate in 2021 was 49.6 deaths per 100,000 population, both the lowest number and rate of death since the board was created in 1994.

“Within the three decades that the State Child Death Review Board has been in existence, more than 12,000 deaths of Kansas children have been examined. The data provided in this report is critical to our understanding of why children are dying,” said Sara Hortenstine, the board’s executive director, in a news release. “We know that behind each of these statistics are the stories of children who lost their lives too soon, families who are still grieving, and communities that will be impacted forever. We must learn from these difficult circumstances and take action to prevent future deaths of Kansas children.”

Deaths due to natural causes have declined in the last five years, the report showed. In 2021, over 100 fewer children died from natural causes compared to 2018.

Despite the overall number of child deaths decreasing, child homicides and drug-related deaths have increased. In 2021, 32 children died from homicide compared to 22 in 2020, an increase of 45%.

The report also indicates that drug-related deaths increased significantly in the past two years. While no children died in 2017, 2018, and 2019 from fentanyl, 20 kids died from fentanyl overdoses in 2020 and 2021.

To read the full report, you can visit the Attorney General’s office website by clicking here.