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Reducing the global burden of childhood unintentional injuries


Among 1–19-year olds, unintentional injuries accounted for 12% of 5.1 million global deaths from injuries in 2010. Despite this high burden, childhood injuries have not received much attention in global health. This paper describes the major causes of deaths from childhood unintentional injuries and provides a review of interventions for reducing this burden. About 627 741 deaths were due to unintentional injuries in 2010 among 1–19-year olds. The proportionate mortality increased with age—from 12.6% among 1–4-year olds to 28.8% among 15–19-year olds. Deaths from Western sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia accounted for more than 50% of all deaths. Rates in these regions are 68.0 and 36.4 per 100 000 population, respectively, compared to 6.4 in Western Europe. Road traffic injuries (RTI) are the commonest cause of death, followed by deaths from drowning, burns and falls. Male children are more predisposed to unintentional injuries except for burns which occur more frequently among females in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Effective solutions exist—including barriers for preventing drowning; safer stoves for burns; child restraint systems for RTI—but the effectiveness of these measures need to be rigorously tested in LMICs. The general lack of a coordinated global response to the burden of childhood unintentional injuries is of concern. The global community must create stronger coalitions and national or local plans for action. Death rates for this paper may have been underestimated, and there is need for longitudinal studies to accurately measure the impact of injuries in LMICs.

  • Injury Prevention
  • Mortality
  • Global Burden
  • Policy
  • Interventions

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