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Mike Bryant
Mike Bryant
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Child Safety: Car Accidents And Falls Top Causes Of Children’s Deaths

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week that motor vehicle crashes and falls cause most of the unintentional child and teen injuries and deaths in the United States. From 2001 to 2006, about 55 million children and teens (9.2 million per year) were treated at emergency departments for unintentional injuries. Falls caused the majority of non-fatal injuries at 2.8 million per year, while most deaths were transportation-related — a motor vehicle occupant, pedestrian or cyclist at 8,000 per year.

Among the other key findings in the report:

  • On average, 12,175 children aged 0 to 19 years died each year in the United States from an unintentional injury.

  • Overall, the highest fatality rates were among occupants of motor vehicles.

  • The leading causes of injury death differed by age group. For children younger than 1, two-thirds of injury deaths were due to suffocation. Drowning was the leading cause of injury death for those aged 1 to 4. For children aged 5 to 19, the majority of injury deaths were due to being an occupant in a motor vehicle traffic crash.

  • Children aged 1 to 4 had the highest nonfatal injury rates due to poisoning and falls.

  • Males were nearly twice as likely as females to die as a result of unintentional injuries.

  • Risk for injury death varied by race, with the highest rates among American Indian and Alaska Natives and the lowest rates among Asians or Pacific Islanders. Overall death rates for whites and blacks were similar.

  • Injury death rates varied by state, depending upon the cause of death. Northeastern states had the lowest overall injury death rates. Fire and burn death rates were highest in some of the southern states. Death rates from transportation-related injuries were highest in some southern states and some states of the upper plains and lowest in states in the northeast region.

  • Five causes accounted for the majority of nonfatal injuries. Falls was the leading cause of nonfatal injury for all age groups younger than 15. For children aged 0 to 9, the next two leading causes were being struck by or against an object and animal bites or insect stings. For children aged 10 to 14, the next leading causes were being struck by or against an object and overexertion. For children aged 15 to 19, the three leading causes of nonfatal injuries were being struck by or against an object, falls and motor vehicle occupant injuries.

To help parents and caregivers prevent child and teen injuries, the CDC has introduced the "Protect the Ones You Love" initiative. Details can be found at www.cdc.gov/safechild.

As with any death in a Minnesota motor vehicle collision, when a child is involved there are a number of issues that will need to be reviewed. My partner, Joe Crumley, addressed this topic in a recent article for the Minnesota Lawyers Trial magazine. I was interviewed last year on the same topic. These numbers are starting particularly because the accidents would involve them as passengers or pedestrians.