One Child Dies of an Unintentional Injury Every Hour

Apr 16, 2012, 4:56 PM, Posted by

vital-signs-injury-prevention Infographic courtesy of CDC

“One child’s death is one death too many, but thankfully we’re seeing improvement,” says Ileana Arias, PhD, Principal Deputy Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the latest CDC Vital Signs report, released today on child injury. Injury is the number one cause of death for children in the United States.

According to the report, death rates from unintentional injuries among children and adolescents from birth through age 19 declined by nearly 30 percent from 2000 to 2009, however 9,000 children lost their lives as a result of unintentional injury in the United States in 2009.

Key information from the report includes:

  • Although rates for most causes of child injuries have been dropping, suffocation rates are on the rise, with a 54 percent increase in reported suffocation among infants less than one year old.
  • Poisoning death rates also increased, with a 91 percent increase among teens aged 15 through 19, largely due to prescription drug overdose.
  • The most common cause of death from unintentional injury for children is motor vehicle crashes; other leading causes include drowning, poisoning, fires and falls.
  • Child injury death rates varied substantially by state in 2009, ranging from less than 5 deaths per 100,000 children in Massachusetts and New Jersey to more than 23 deaths per 100,000 children in South Dakota and Mississippi.

Good news from the report shows that death rates from car crashes among children dropped by 41 percent from 2000 through 2009. The reasons include improvements in child safety and booster seat use and use of graduated drivers licensing systems for teen drivers. But, crashes still remain the leading cause of unintentional injury death for children.

“Child injury remains a serious problem in which everyone—including parents, state health officials, health care providers, government and community groups—has a critical role to play to protect and save the lives of our young people, said Linda C. Degutis, DrPH, MSN, who is director of CDC?s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Action Plan to Reduce Injuries Released Today

In an effort to reduce the level of unintentional child injuries, CDC and over sixty partner organizations today released a National Action Plan on Child Injury Prevention.

The National Action Plan’s goals include:

  • Raise awareness about the problem of child injury and the effects on our nation.
  • Highlight prevention solutions by uniting stakeholders around a common set of goals and strategies.
  • Mobilize action on a national, coordinated effort to reduce child injury.

>>Bonus Reading: Only 21 of the 98 top-selling 2010-11 passenger car models evaluated have car seat anchors and tethers that are easy to use, according to a study released late last week by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.