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
Suicide and Self-Inflicted Injury
Why This Topic Is Important

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 (3). 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, 4, 5). Injury treatment is the leading cause of medical spending for children in the nation, costing nearly $11.5 billion each year (3, 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:

1.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Vital signs: Child injury. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/childinjury/?s_cid=bb-vitalsigns-120

2.  As cited on kidsdata.org, Child/youth death rate, by age and leading cause. (2012). California Department of Public Health, Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from: http://wonder.cdc.gov/

3.  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

4.  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

5.  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

6.  Murphy, S. L., Xu, J. Q., & Kochanek, K. D. (2013). Deaths: Final data for 2010. National Vital Statistics Reports, 61(4). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_04.pdf

How Children Are Faring
In 2012, there were 28,138 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 38% between 1993 and 2012, from 411.6 per 100,000 to 257.2. Among counties with available data, the rate of hospitalizations due to injuries ranged from 153.5 per 100,000 to 455.9 in 2012.

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/youth ages 0-20 are preventable, and many can be addressed by public policies focused on safety. California has a number of laws in place to strengthen injury prevention (1). Intentional injuries, occurring as the result of maltreatment or self-harm, also can be prevented and should be addressed.

According to research and subject experts, policies that could reduce injuries among children and youth include:
  • Setting school policies that foster student “connectedness” with school (meaning students feel they are treated fairly, close to people, and safe at school), as research has shown that this is among the strongest protective factors in decreasing the risk of unintentional injury from causes such as drinking and driving or not wearing a seatbelt (2, 3)
  • Enforcing existing motor vehicle safety laws, including those concerning seat belts, car seats, and drunk driving (4)
  • Educating families and other caregivers on injury prevention related to the accidental exposure to medications—the leading cause of child poisoning—and other dangers, such as firearms (5, 6)
  • Addressing the social factors associated with child maltreatment, such as neighborhood economic distress, poverty, and low parental education levels (7)
  • Preventing child abuse by ensuring that children have safe, stable, and caring relationships with caregivers through efforts such as home visiting programs for high-risk groups, hospital-based education programs for new mothers, and comprehensive child development centers that provide resources for children and parents (7, 8)
  • Providing routine and accessible mental health screening and services to youth to address depression and prevent youth self-harm (9)

For more policy ideas about injury prevention, see kidsdata.org's Research & Links section. For more information on child abuse prevention, see the 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:

1.  National Center for Children in Poverty. (2011). California adolescent profile. Retrieved from: http://www.nccp.org/profiles/

2.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). School connectedness: Strategies for increasing protective factors among youth. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/protective/pdf/connectedness.pdf

3.  Monahan, K., et al. (2010). Predictors and consequences of school connectedness: The case for prevention. The Prevention Researcher, 17(3), 3-6. Retrieved from: http://www.pitt.edu/~adlab/People%20pics%20and%20links/Publications%20page/Predictors%20and%20Consequences%20of%20School%20Connectedness.pdf

4.  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

5.  Safe Kids Worldwide. (2013). An in-depth look at keeping young children safe around medicine. Retrieved from: http://issuu.com/safekids/docs/2013-medication-safety-report/3?e=4874392/2095890

6.  Gutierrez J., et al. (2012). Firearm-related injuries affecting the pediatric population. Pediatrics, 130(5), e1416-e 1423. Retrieved from: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/5/e1416.full

7.  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

8.  McLanahan, S., et al. (2009). Preventing child maltreatment. The Future of Children, Princeton-Brookings19(2). Retrieved from: http://futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/docs/19_02_FullJournal.pdf

9.  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

Websites with Related Information
Key Reports
County/Regional Reports
More Data Sources For Injuries