Children and young people with life-threatening illness are not being treated appropriately because professionals caring for them are not trained in paediatrics, the world's first confidential inquiry into child deaths has found.

Why Children Die, published this week, reviewed over 900 child deaths occurring in three regions of England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2006. A panel scrutinised 119 deaths and found "areas of concern" in 31 cases.

Children were cared for in non-paediatric units, insufficient care was taken over history or examination, observation was inadequate, complications were not anticipated or guidelines were not followed.

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health president Dr Patricia Hamilton said: "Children must be seen by healthcare personnel who have had appropriate training to provide proper and timely care, or who will refer to a paediatrician who does have those skills."