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CDC: Child and Teen Accidental Deaths Declined From 2000 to 2009

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Child InjuryAlthough 29% fewer children and teens died in accidents from 2000 to 2009, accidents are still the leading cause of death for that age group, according to a report issued on Monday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As Mike Stobbe writes for the Associated Press on, according to the report:

A 41 percent drop in traffic fatalities had a huge impact on the numbers, crashes annually account for half or more of kids’ deaths from accidents. The CDC didn’t analyze exactly what caused that decline, but officials believe it was helped by measures like graduated driver’s licenses and use of child safety and booster seats.

Childhood deaths from drownings, fires and falls also plummeted.

Despite the drop in the overall death rate, there was an alarming rise in deaths from prescription drug overdoses, which Stobbe notes “is a trend seen in adults but which also reaches down into the ranks of older teenagers.” Accidental poisonings for all children and teens increased by 80%, to 824 in 2009, about half of the most recent victims being teens between 15 and 19 who overdosed on prescription drugs. Stobbe quotes Ileana Arias, the CDC’s principal deputy director, as saying that in some cases, children take prescription medications from their parents’ medicine cabinets, and those appear to be replacing marijuana as gateway drugs.

The number of suffocations also rose, to 1,160 deaths in 2009. Of those, around 1,000 were infants age 1 and younger, a group for which the suffocation rate climbed 54%. “CDC officials repeated their call for parents to put babies to bed on their backs, remove loose bedding materials and take other steps to make cribs and sleeping places safer,” Stobbe writes.

The CDC report, based on death certificate information for youths ages 19 and younger for the years 2000 through 2009, shows that although there were declines in the accidental death rate for children and teens in nearly every state, the largest declines were in Delaware, Iowa, Oregon, and Virginia. According to the report, Colorado is among those states with death rates not significantly different from the overall U.S. rate of 11 in 2009. Colorado showed a 27% decrease (from 167 fatalities from accidents in 2000 to 136 in 2009), as compared with an overall 29% decrease in the U.S.

The new report is the first one the CDC has done to describe trends over time in unintentional injury deaths in children and teens according to the way the deaths occurred and the states they occurred in. In its conclusion, the report says, among other things:

The wide variations in death rates among states suggest that environment, exposure to hazards (e.g., vehicle miles traveled, exposure to water settings, urban or rural environment), and differences in public policy might play a role. In 2009, if the overall national rate had been equal to the lowest state unintentional injury death rate, 5,785 lives would have been saved.

The report also notes:

Even with the reported declines, the U.S. unintentional injury death rate among persons aged 0–19 years does not compare favorably with other developed countries. Among the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, the U.S. unintentional injury death rate for persons aged 0–14 years ranked 30th in 2008, with a rate four times higher than the top performing nations (15).

Image by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, used under Fair Use: Reporting.


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