Injuries in Children

Injuries are the leading cause of death for kids in the US. There were about 10,216 deaths of children between the ages of infancy to 18 years of age that were secondary to unintentional injuries. There were more than 8 million nonfatal injuries in children in 2005 alone. Injury rates vary according to a child’s developmental stage. For example, traumatic brain injury rates were highest at 3 months of age and lowest at 12 months of age.

Those at greatest risk of unintentional injuries include males, minorities and children of poverty. The leading cause of death for kids aged 1-4 years is motor vehicle accidents, followed by drowning. For kids between 5 and 9 years of age, the causes include traffic accidents, fire or burns and drowning. For kids aged 10-14 years, most of the children die from traffic accidents at nearly 60 percent. These kids also die from drowning, other transportation accidents and fires or burns. In 15-19 year olds, a total of 77 percent of injuries were due to traffic accidents, followed by poisoning and drowning. As teens transition from being passengers to drivers, their rate of accidental deaths from traffic accidents goes up.

For nonfatal accidents, the leading cause is unintentional falls in kids from 1-14 years of age. At 15-19 years of age, the leading cause of injuries not leading to death switches to being struck by something, followed by falls.

Risks of injury increase as they grow and develop. It is important to keep as many hazards out of the environment as is possible. As they age, they can become involved in risky behavior and they are away from home more, where the environment can’t be controlled. The primary influences for safety are the parents, peers and the community.

Motor vehicle accidents are a big cause of morbidity and mortality in kids from 1-14 years of age. Half of these kids were unrestrained at the time of the accident. Even those who ride in safety seats are not correctly kept in their restraining device. Hispanics are at high risk due to not using them in their native country. Teen drivers at highest risk are males, pedestrians and bicyclists. Newly licensed drivers are at highest risk.

For every child who dies from drowning, five other kids are treated for near-drowning incidents, some of which caused brain damage. Most drownings between ages 1 and 4 occur in residential swimming pools. Teen drownings often involve alcohol. Boating without life vests puts one at risk of drowning.

Fires and burns usually happen in the home and most fatalities are from smoke inhalation rather than burns. Smoking and cooking accidents are often factors related to fire deaths.

Poisonings are also a cause of major morbidity and mortality. A total of 53 percent of these injuries happened in kids under 6 years of age and most accidents occurred in the home. Household chemicals are a common cause of poisonings.

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