The injury data on kidsdata.org are based on hospital discharges for injuries among children and youth ages 0-20. These data can be viewed as a number or a rate per 100,000. They also can be viewed as a number by age and cause. In addition, numbers and rates are provided for intentional (e.g., self-inflicted injuries or assault) and unintentional (e.g., car accidents, falls, etc.) injuries by age group. All data exclude fatal injuries.
Injuries are the leading cause of death among children and youth ages 1-19 in California and the U.S., and these injuries often are preventable (1, 2). Unintentional injuries, in particular, such as car accidents and falls, are the top cause of death (1). In fact, nationwide, one of every five deaths among all children under age 20 is due to unintentional injuries (5). Of course, not all injuries result in death. Each year, about 9 million children and youth are treated in emergency rooms for unintentional injuries in the U.S. – that’s one every 4 seconds (1, 3, 4). Injury treatment is the leading cause of medical spending for children in the nation, costing nearly $11.5 billion each year (2, 5).
Intentional injuries, such as self-inflected harm or assault, are less common than unintentional injuries but still are among the leading causes of death for children ages 1-19, statewide and nationally (2, 6).
For more information on injuries, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources cited for this narrative:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Vital signs: Child injury. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/childinjury/?s_cid=bb-vitalsigns-120
- As cited on kidsdata.org, California Department of Public Health, Center for Health Statistics. (2012). Death rate, ages 1-4, 5-14, and 15-19, by leading cause. Retrieved from: http://www.kidsdata.org/data/topic/related.aspx?cat=49
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Protect the ones you love: Child injuries are preventable. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/safechild/index.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008). Childhood injury report: 5. Nonfatal unintentional injury estimates among children 0-19 years, United States, 2001-2006. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/SafeChild/ChildhoodInjuryReport/Chapter5_1.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Vital signs: Unintentional injury deaths among persons aged 0-19 years – United States, 2000-2009. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm61e0416a1.htm?s_cid=mm61e0416a1_w
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008). Unintentional injuries, violence, and the health of young people. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/injury/pdf/facts.pdf
Most leading causes of injuries for children/youth ages 0-20 are preventable, and many can be addressed by public policies focused on safety. California already has a number of laws in place to strengthen injury prevention. (1) In addition, “school connectedness,” which refers to students feeling that they are treated fairly, close to people, and safe at school, has been shown to be among the strongest protective factors in decreasing the risk of unintentional injury from causes like drinking and driving or not wearing a seat belt. (2)
According to research and subject experts, policies that could reduce injuries among children and youth include:
- Enforcing existing motor vehicle safety laws, including those concerning seat belts, car seats, and drunk driving (3)
- Preventing child abuse by promoting safe, stable, and nurturing relationships between caregivers and children through efforts such as home visiting programs, hospital-based education programs for new mothers, and comprehensive child development centers that provide resources for children and parents; and by addressing the social factors associated with child maltreatment (neighborhood economic stress, poverty, low parental education levels, etc.) (4)
- Providing routine and accessible mental health screening and services to youth to address depression and prevent youth self-harm (5, 6)
- Setting school policies that foster student connectedness with school (2)
For more policy ideas about injury prevention, see kidsdata.org's Research & Links section on this page or SafeKids USA. For more information on child abuse prevention, see the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Child Welfare Information Gateway. Also see Policy Implications on kidsdata.org under the topics School Connectedness, Suicide and Self-Inflicted Injury, Deaths, and Child Abuse.
Sources for this narrative:
- Sacramento Advocacy. (n.d.). Issues and priorities – California Coalition for Children’s Health & Safety.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). School connectedness: Strategies for increasing protective factors among youth. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/adolescenthealth/pdf/connectedness.pdf
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2001). Recommendations to reduce injuries to motor vehicle occupants: Increasing child safety seat use, increasing safety belt use, and reducing alcohol-impaired driving. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK14104/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). Preventing child maltreatment through the promotion of safe, stable, nurturing relationships between children and caregivers. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/CM_Strategic_Direction--Long-a.pdf
- American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Mental Health. (2010). The Case for Routine Mental Health Screening. Pediatrics, 125(S3), S133-139. Retrieved from: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/125/Supplement_3.toc
- Mann, J. J., et al. (2005). Suicide prevention strategies: A systemic review. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 294(16), 2064-2074. Retrieved from: http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/294/16/2064.short
In 2010, there were 30,442 hospitalizations for non-fatal injuries among children and youth ages 0-20 statewide. Although California rates consistently are higher than national figures, the statewide rate of hospitalizations for injuries among children and youth ages 0-20 decreased by 33% between 1993 and 2010, from 411.6 per 100,000 to 276.1. Among counties with available data, the rate of hospitalizations due to injuries ranged from 121.7 per 100,000 to 467.0 in 2010.
The number of unintentional injuries, which account for the majority of hospitalizations for injuries among children/youth, declined statewide from 31,798 in 1993 to 22,335 in 2010. In recent years, at the state and national level, rates of hospitalizations for unintentional injuries have been highest among youth ages 16-20. However, in 2010, the rate for children under age 1 in California surpassed the rate for youth ages 16-20. At the national level, though, rates of hospitalizations for unintentional injuries continued to be highest among youth ages 16-20 in 2010. The hospitalization rate for intentional injuries in California and the U.S. is highest among youth ages 16-20, followed by youth ages 13-15.