Topic Editor: Frederick Rivara, MD, University of Washington, USA
Injuries are the most important cause of morbidity and mortality for children in high income countries and are increasingly so for children in low-and middle-income countries. All injuries should be viewed as preventable.
Falls are the most common injury event and occur when a person comes to rest inadvertently on the ground, the floor or from one level to another. Although falls result in minor bruises and bumps most of the time, injury rates from falls can also become fatal. In 2007, falls ranked first as the leading cause of non-fatal injury events among children under 14 years old in the United States. Worldwide, death and injury rates vary by country and child gender.
Road Traffic Injury
Road traffic injury (RTI) is defined as any collision or incident involving at least one vehicle in motion that leads to a fatal injury. It is estimated that more than one million people die each year from RTI. In fact, road-traffic crashes are projected to be the 5th leading cause of death by 2030. Pedestrians, cyclists, and young children are the most at risk of being involved in those incidents.
Drowning refers to a fatal incident caused by respiratory impairment after being submersed in a liquid medium. In most countries, drowning reaches its peak among children between 1 to 4 years of age. The number of drowning incidents is estimated to be around 30,000 deaths each year (especially high in low-and middle-income countries, and rural areas). In some parts of the world, such as Bangladesh, drowning is the most common cause of death for young children.
According to the World Health Organization, burns are “injuries to the skin or other organic tissue caused by thermal trauma”. It can occur when the skin is damaged by hot liquids (scalds), hot solids (contact burns) or flames (flame burns). It is estimated that more than 95,000 children under 20 years old died each year from burn related injuries. The population most at risk are children under five years living in low-and-middle income countries.
Poisoning is defined as exposure to a potentially harmful substance such as dangerous chemicals or medications. In the United States, more than 1,500,000 poisoning cases were reported in children (0-19 years-old) in 2009. Children under 5 have the highest rate of poisoning. The number of poisoning events tends to be higher in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.