Unintentional Injury Hospitalizations, by Age

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Learn More About Injuries

Measures of Injuries on Kidsdata.org
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.
Infant Mortality
Youth Suicide and Self-Inflicted Injury
Why This Topic Is Important
Injuries are the leading cause of death among children and teens in California and the U.S., and these injuries often are preventable (1, 2). Nationwide, about one in every five child deaths is due to an injury (1). Unintentional injuries, in particular, such as motor vehicle crashes and drowning, are the top cause of death (1). Of course, not all injuries result in death. Each year, more than 8 million children and youth are treated in emergency rooms for injuries in the U.S. (1, 3). Treatment of injuries is the leading cause of health care spending for children in the nation, with emergency room visits and hospitalizations for child injuries costing more than $26 billion in 2010, the latest available figure (1, 3).

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 under age 19, statewide and nationally (2, 4).
For more information on injuries, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.

Sources cited for this narrative:

1.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Protect the ones you love: Child injuries are preventable. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/safechild/nap/index.html

2.  As cited on kidsdata.org, Child/youth death rate, by age and leading cause. (2015). California Department of Public Health, Death Statistical Master Files; CDC, Mortality data on WONDER; California Department of Finance, Race/Ethnic Population with Age and Sex Detail, 1990-1999, 2000-2010, 2000-2060. Retrieved from: http://www.dof.ca.gov/

3.  Santoro, K.L., & Schmidt, E.R. (2015). Health plan approaches to child injury prevention. National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation, and EDC, Inc. Retrieved from: http://www.nihcm.org/images/pdf/Child_Injury_Prevention_Issue_Brief.pdf

4.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2015). Injury prevention & control: Data & statistics (WISQARS). Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/leading_causes_death.html
How Children Are Faring
In 2013, there were 26,450 hospitalizations for non-fatal injuries among children and youth ages 0-20 statewide. The California rate of hospitalizations for injuries among children/youth decreased by 41% between 1993 and 2013, from 411.6 per 100,000 to 244.4. Among counties with available data, the rate of hospitalizations due to injuries ranged from 138.7 per 100,000 to 389.5 in 2013.

Hospitalization rates for unintentional injuries in California, which account for the majority of hospitalizations for injuries among children/youth, have fluctuated in recent years, but are lower than 1993 levels. This is true overall and among all age groups. In recent years, rates of hospitalizations for unintentional injuries have been highest among those ages 16-20 and under age 1 in California. The hospitalization rate for intentional injuries is highest among youth ages 16-20, followed by youth ages 13-15.
Policy Implications
Most unintentional injuries to children and youth ages 0-20 are preventable, and many can be addressed by public policies and programs focused on safety. California has a number of laws and initiatives in place to strengthen injury prevention (1). Intentional injuries, occurring as a result of maltreatment, assault, or self-harm, also can be prevented and should be addressed.

According to research and subject experts, policy and program options that could reduce injuries among children and youth include:
  • Enforcing existing motor vehicle safety laws, including those concerning seat belts, car seats, and drunk or distracted driving (2, 3)
  • Supporting efforts to educate families and caregivers on injury prevention related to the accidental exposure to medications—the leading cause of child poisoning—and prevention related to other risks at home, such as drowning, fires, falls, and firearms (4, 5)
  • Setting school policies that foster student “connectedness” with school (meaning students feel that adults and peers at school care about them), as research shows that this is a strong protective factor in decreasing the risk of injury from causes such as violence, drinking and driving, and not wearing a seatbelt (6)
  • Promoting efforts in communities to ensure youth have connections to caring adults and access to safe, positive activities, such as quality after-school programs and mentoring programs (7)
  • Preventing child abuse by ensuring that children have safe, stable, and caring relationships with parents and caregivers; for example, by supporting evidence-based efforts that provide parents/caregivers with information, training, and support, such as home visiting programs for high-risk groups and hospital-based education programs for new mothers (8)
  • Addressing social risk factors associated with child maltreatment, such as neighborhood economic distress, poverty, and low parental education levels (8)
  • Supporting research-based, cross-sector strategies to promote positive emotional health among children, youth, and parents, including routine and accessible mental health screening and services (9)
For more information about injury prevention, see kidsdata.org's Research & Links section. Also see Policy Implications on kidsdata.org under these topics: Suicide and Self-Inflicted Injury, Emotional/Mental Health, School Connectedness, Child Abuse and Neglect, and Deaths.

Sources for this narrative:

1.  California Department of Public Health. (n.d.). Safe and active communities branch. Retrieved from: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/SACB/Pages/default.aspx

2.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). A national action plan for child injury prevention: Reducing motor-vehicle related injuries in children. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/safechild/NAP/overviews/mv-kids.html

3.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Injury prevention & control: Motor vehicle safety -- distracted driving. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/Distracted_Driving/index.html

4.  Safe Kids Worldwide. (2015). Report to the nation: Protecting children in your home. Retrieved from: http://www.safekids.org/research-report/report-nation-protecting-children-your-home-february-2015

5.  Safe States Alliance. (2013). Safe States Alliance policy statement: Preventing firearm-related violence. Retrieved from: http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.safestates.org/resource/resmgr/Files/Safe_States_Firearm_Policy_S.pdf?hhSearchTerms=%22firearms%22

6.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Adolescent and school health: School connectedness. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/protective/connectedness.htm

7.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Preventing suicide through connectedness. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/asap_suicide_issue3-a.pdf

8.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). 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

9.  Murphey, D., et al. (2014). Are the children well? A model and recommendations for promoting the mental wellness of the nation’s young people. Child Trends and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Retrieved from: http://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2014/07/are-the-children-well-.html
Websites with Related Information
Key Reports and Research
County/Regional Reports
More Data Sources For Injuries