Every year 149 Australian children die and 680,000 children aged 16 or less are hospitalised from injuries.
A new report has revealed the latest stats on where and how these kids are doing themselves serious, and sometimes fatal harm.
The first ever national study of nearly 700,000 hospitalisations has revealed that injuries are the number one cause of death in children under 17. That’s twice the number of hospital admissions as cancer, diabetes and heart disease combined.
The study has revealed some very interesting statistics:
- Child injury hospitalisation rates have not decreased over the last ten years
- For every severely injured child, there are at least 13 children hospitalised with minor or moderate injuries.
- The total hospital cost of injury hospitalisations of children during the ten year period was $2.1 billion. $212 million annually, and a mean cost per child of $3,119.
- Falls (38.4%), most often from playground equipment (8.3%) were the most common injury mechanism.
- Sporting activities (19.0%) were the most common specified activity performed at the time of the incident.
- The child’s home (24.5%) was the most common specified place of the incident.
- Fractures (41.9%) were the most common type of injury.
- A higher proportion of injured children resided in areas of socioeconomic disadvantage.
What are the three most common causes of injury in children?
The three most common causes of injury were falls, injuries due to inanimate mechanical forces and road transport-related incidents. (Inanimate mechanical force is defined as being struck by or striking against objects).
Falls represented almost 40% of injury hospital admissions and were the most common injury mechanism for children across all age groups.
Playground equipment falls are the most common and led to over 55,000 children hospitalised over the 10 years between 2002-2012.
Road transport-related injuries are more common among children aged 11-16 years than the younger age groups. This data highlights the importance of both correct car seat fitting and bike helmets.
Poisoning and children under five years
Poisoning was most common among young children aged 5 years or less whether from ingestion of pharmaceutical medications or of other toxic substances, such as detergents, button batteries, or other chemicals.
Injury in the home
The most common place of occurrence of injury for children aged 0-5 and 6-10 years is the family home. Obviously because this is where they spend the majority of their time. As age increased, the proportion of injuries occurring in the school environment (for 6-10-year-olds) and at sport and athletic areas (for 11-16-year-olds) increased as well.
Self-harm and tweens and teens
There was a high-proportion of injury resulting from self-harm in those aged 11-16 years, particularly females. Self-harm is an increasing public health issue among young adolescents. Common factors linked to self-harming among adolescents including self-harm by friends or family members, psychosocial issues, substance abuse, and self-blaming coping strategies, mental health issues, depression or bullying.
The call for a National Injury Prevention Plan for Children
“It is quite astounding that injury to children is the largest cause of disability and death. Yet, we don’t have a national prevention plan,” said Professor Kay Curtis. Curtis is co-author of the report and a Professor of Emergency and Trauma Nursing at Sydney University.
The results of the research are so alarming that 17 experts in pediatric medicine and childhood trauma have independently called upon the federal government to urgently establish a new national injury prevention plan.
One of these, Professor Mitchell said there was an immediate need for routine injury surveillance to begin to inform and evaluate immediate prevention strategies. There is also calls for a federal agency to coordinate injury prevention strategies. The initiative would cost about $50 million a year but would easily be recovered by safety improvements. Even eliminating one traumatic brain injury a year would save $5 million.
Interestingly, nearly half of all parents of critically injured children developed post traumatic stress disorder after the event.
You can see the full report by Industry Australia here.