Pediatric Injuries

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January 31, 2013
Edward Smith

Injuries are common in children and are one of the leading causes of death for kids age 0-18. They can, however, be prevented by understanding what injuries are more common in the different age groups. It may take instruction of healthcare providers, parents, and the children themselves to prevent these injuries from occurring. In addition to the family’s financial burden, childhood injuries lead to emotional trauma for parents, society and the child himself.

In one study, a look at the morbidity and mortality of injuries in childhood was used to determine intervention strategies for kids at different developmental levels. They used data from 1996-1998 at a California hospital and by means of death certificate to determine the external cause of injury for children less than 4 years of age. Rates of death and injury were calculated at three month intervals.

There were a total of more than 23,000 injuries and 636 deaths. The annual rate for kids aged 0-3 years of age was 371 per 100,000 population. The rate increased dramatically after 5 months of age, peaking at ages 15-17 months of age. The leading causes of injury were poisoning, falls, automobile, fires or burns and foreign body injuries. Falls made up the greatest proportion of injuries.

The rates of injury for babies aged 0-12 months varied with age. They included falls from a height at 0-2 months, battering at 3-5 months, falls from furniture at 6-8 months and non-airway foreign body ingestion at 9-12 months of age. Hot liquid or vapor injuries were the top injuries in 12-17 months and poisoning by medication was the leading specific injury cause for children of ages 18-35 months and pedestrian injuries peaked at 36-47 months.

Falls from furniture had the highest rate from 3-47 months of age. Kids fell from stairs at under 12 months of age and medication poisoning topped at 21-23 months. Alternative substance poisoning peaked at a younger age, 15-17 months. Falls from buildings was greatest at two years of age. Motor vehicle injuries were steady over the age periods looked at. Both battering and neglect injuries were highest among infants less than 5 months of age. Bathtub submersion rates peaked between 8 and 11 months.

The researchers concluded that the type of injury sustained by the child was dependent on his or her developmental stage. In other words, kids that are ambulatory are much more likely to suffer from falls down stairs or pedestrian injuries when compared to kids that aren’t ambulatory. Kids 15-17 months of age overall had the highest injury rate when compared to all kids until the age of 15 years.

They determined that when a child has the developmental ability to get into a hazard but has not developed the awareness that the hazard is dangerous is when the child is at the greatest risk of injury or death from trauma. They were surprised at the high rate of battering at such a young age, necessitating education on this problem in the perinatal period. Medication storage practices also need to be discussed and parents need to make use of poison control advice over the phone through the nationwide poison control system. Pedestrian injuries nearly doubled between 12 months and 17 months, indicating the need for education of parents over kids on or near roadways and driveways.