Accidental death rate for children falls
April 16th, 2012
02:10 PM ET

Accidental death rate for children falls

Every hour, one child dies from an unintentional injury in the United States.

It’s the leading cause of death for children and adolescents aged 1 to 19, and the fifth leading cause of death for newborns and infants less than a year old.

However, the death rate from unintentional injuries among children and adolescents from birth to age 19 plunged almost 30% from 2000-2009, according to a Vitals Signs report released Monday by the CDC.

The report also found that the rate of child injury deaths in the United States remains among the worst of all high-income countries. It is more than twice the rate of the United Kingdom, France, and Canada.

“As horrible as these numbers are, the facts are even more troubling and difficult to accept when you consider that most of these events are predictable and preventable,” said Ileana Arias, principal deputy director of the CDC.

Leading cause: Car crashes

While deaths from car crashes are down more than 40% during the last decade, they remain the leading cause of unintentional injury death for children.

Drivers and passengers alike should always utilize their seat belts and parents should install the appropriate safety seats and booster seats for their child’s age and weight. The CDC's National Action Plan also suggests using a safe-driving agreement or contract with teens.

On the rise: Poisoning deaths, suffocation

Poisoning deaths, it should be noted, are steadily on the rise among teenagers, largely due to prescription drug overdoses. The CDC recommends keeping medicines away from children and teens, as well as storing cleaning solutions and other toxic products in their original packaging and out of children’s reach.

Related: Keep kids away from the medicine cabinet

Deaths by suffocation are also on the rise, up by nearly a third during the past decade. The CDC urges parents to be sure cribs meet proper safety standards. Infants should sleep alone, on their backs, and on a firm surface. Also avoid loose bedding or soft toys in cribs.

According to the report, child injury death rates varied substantially from state to state, ranging from fewer than 5 deaths per 100,000 children in Massachusetts and New Jersey to more than 23 deaths per 100,000 children in South Dakota and Mississippi.

“This variation is important, because it demonstrates what is possible to accomplish,” said Arias. “For example, in 2009, more than 5,700 children’s lives would have been saved if the lowest state’s death rate had been achieved nationally.”

“We need empowered parents and caregivers who have the knowledge and skill to make the right choices for safety every time,” said Dr. Julie Gilchrist, Medical Epidemiologist, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention. “Some things to keep kids safe are not a one-time fix. They must be safe choices made every time.”

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