CHILDHOOD INJURIES: Leading Cause of Death, Study Finds
A study by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation found that 1,100 kids in California died from accidental injuries in 1997, the Los Angeles Times reports. New safety measures have prompted a national 40% reduction in injuries since 1980, but injuries and accidents remain the leading cause of death for children under 19. In California, auto and traffic accidents topped the list, followed by drowning, fires, suffocation, falls and poisoning. Nationwide, 250 children die each week from unintentional and preventable injuries, costing the country $14 billion annually in medical care and creating a "steady drumbeat of death and disfigurement." The report states: "Despite a plethora of injury-prevention strategies demonstrated to be effective, the implementation of these strategies has lagged far beyond their (potential) impact." Dr. Fred Rivara, the report's editorial adviser and the former director of the Harbor View Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Washington, attributed the rates to health departments' lack of training and information about childhood injury prevention. He added: "Another factor is just a sense of fatalism. [People] use the word 'accident' as though [it is an] acts of God and can't be predicted or prevented. There needs to be a mindshift to thinking of injuries as something that can and should be prevented." The report found that legislation and regulations, such as the drinking age requirement and seat belt laws, are particularly effective tools in reducing childhood accidents, although they are often poorly enforced or unevenly adopted in different states (Marquis, 6/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.