More than 2,000 children die every day from unintentional injury; at least half could be saved

Dec 10, 2008

More than 2000 children die every day as a result of an unintentional, or accidental injury, and every year tens of millions more worldwide are taken to hospitals with injuries that often leave them with lifelong disabilities, according to a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.

The World Report on Child Injury Prevention provides the first comprehensive global assessment of childhood unintentional injuries and prescribes measures to prevent them. It concludes that if proven prevention measures were adopted everywhere at least 1000 children's lives could be saved every day.

"Child injuries are an important public health and development issue. In addition to the 830 000 deaths every year, millions of children suffer non-fatal injuries that often require long-term hospitalization and rehabilitation," said WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. "The costs of such treatment can throw an entire family into poverty. Children in poorer families and communities are at increased risk of injury because they are less likely to benefit from prevention programmes and high quality health services."

"This report is the result of a collaboration of more than 180 experts from all regions of the world," said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. "It shows that unintentional injuries are the leading cause of childhood death after the age of nine years and that 95% of these child injuries occur in developing countries. More must be done to prevent such harm to children."

Africa has the highest rate overall for unintentional injury deaths. The report finds the rate is 10 times higher in Africa than in high-income countries in Europe and the Western Pacific such as Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom, which have the lowest rates of child injury.

However, the report finds that although many high-income countries have been able to reduce their child injury deaths by up to 50% over the past 30 years, the issue remains a problem for them, with unintentional injuries accounting for 40% of all child deaths in such countries.

The report finds that the top five causes of injury deaths are:

1. Road crashes: They kill 260 000 children a year and injure about 10 million. They are the leading cause of death among 10-19 year olds and a leading cause of child disability.
2. Drowning: It kills more than 175 000 children a year. Every year, up to 3 million children survive a drowning incident. Due to brain damage in some survivors, non-fatal drowning has the highest average lifetime health and economic impact of any injury type.
3. Burns: Fire-related burns kill nearly 96 000 children a year and the death rate is eleven times higher in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries.
4. Falls: Nearly 47 000 children fall to their deaths every year, but hundreds of thousands more sustain less serious injuries from a fall.
5. Poisoning: More than 45 000 children die each year from unintended poisoning.

"Improvements can be made in all countries," said Dr Etienne Krug, Director of WHO's Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability. "When a child is left disfigured by a burn, paralysed by a fall, brain damaged by a near drowning or emotionally traumatized by any such serious incident, the effects can reverberate through the child's life. Each such tragedy is unnecessary. We have enough evidence about what works. A known set of prevention programmes should be implemented in all countries."

The report outlines the impact that proven prevention measures can have. These measures include laws on child-appropriate seatbelts and helmets; hot tap water temperature regulations; child-resistant closures on medicine bottles, lighters and household product containers; separate traffic lanes for motorcycles or bicycles; draining unnecessary water from baths and buckets; redesigning nursery furniture, toys and playground equipment; and strengthening emergency medical care and rehabilitation services.

It also identifies approaches that either should be avoided or are not backed by sufficient evidence to recommend them. For example, it concludes that blister packaging for tablets may not be child resistant; that airbags in the front seat of a car could be harmful to children under 13 years; that butter, sugar, oil and other traditional remedies should not be used on burns and that public education campaigns on their own don't reduce rates of drowning.

Source: World Health Organization

Explore further: Oil-swishing craze: Snake oil or all-purpose remedy?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Anthropologists study how, why we read into potential peril

Jan 06, 2014

They went boating alone without life vests and gave no thought to shimmying up very tall coconut trees. And although they were only figments of a writer's imagination, the fictional adventurers helped provide new insight ...

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

Apr 18, 2014

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

Apr 18, 2014

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.