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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013

Child Injury and Mortality

Although injury death rates have declined over the past two decades, unintentional injuries remain the leading cause of death for children ages 1–4 and ages 5–14. In addition, nonfatal injuries continue to be important causes of child morbidity, disability, and reduced quality of life.82 In 2000, the total lifetime costs (medical expenses and productivity losses) of injuries among children ages 0–14 were estimated to be over $50 billion.83 For every fatal injury among children ages 1–14, there are 29 injury-related hospitalizations and 1,669 injury-related emergency department visits.84 The leading causes of injury differ for children and adolescents (see PHY8.A).

Indicator Phy7.A: Emergency department visit rates for children ages 1–4 and 5–14 by leading causes of injury, 2009–2010
Emergency department visit rates for children ages 1–4 and 5–14 by leading causes of injury, 2009–2010

NOTE: Visits are the initial visit to the emergency department for the injury. "Struck" denotes being struck by or against an object or person, "natural or environmental" denotes injuries caused by natural or environmental factors such as insect or animal bites, and "cut or pierced" denotes injuries caused by cutting or piercing from instruments or objects.

SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.

  • Among children ages 1–14, falls and being struck by or against an object or person are the two leading causes of injury-related emergency department visits.
  • Annually in 2009–2010, there were 65 emergency department visits for falls per 1,000 children ages 1–4 and 31 visits for falls per 1,000 children ages 5–14. Falls accounted for 42 percent of injury visits for children ages 1–4 and 28 percent of injury visits for children ages 5–14.85
  • The rates of emergency department visits for injuries resulting from being struck by or against an object or person were 18 visits per 1,000 for children ages 1–4 and 22 visits per 1,000 for children ages 5–14. Among children ages 1–4, some 20 percent of the emergency department visits resulting from being struck by or against an object or person were related to striking furniture. Among children ages 5–14, about 34 percent of the emergency department visits resulting from being struck by or against an object or person were sports-related.85
  • Emergency department visit rates for injuries caused by natural and environmental factors, poisonings, cutting or piercing from instruments or objects, and motor vehicle traffic crashes ranged between 5 and 15 visits per 1,000 for children ages 1–4 and ranged between 1.5 and 7 visits per 1,000 for children ages 5–14.
  • Emergency department visit rates for poisoning were higher among children ages 1–4 (5 per 1,000) than among children ages 5–14 (1.5 per 1,000).
  • For children ages 1–4 and 5–14, about 2 percent of injury-related emergency department visits resulted in hospitalizations, although the percentage varied by cause.85

Indicator Phy7.B: Death rates among children ages 1–4 and 5–14 by all causes and all injury causes, 1980–2011
Death rates among children ages 1–4 and 5–14 by all causes and all injury causes, 1980–2011

NOTE: 2011 data are preliminary. Caution should be taken in interpreting injury death rates based on preliminary data, as these tend to be underestimated. See Deaths: Preliminary data for 2011, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_06.pdf.

SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System.

Indicator Phy7.C: Death rates among children ages 1–4 and 5–14 by cause of death, 2011
Death rates among children ages 1–4 and 5–14 by cause of death, 2011

NOTE: 2011 data are preliminary. Caution should be taken in interpreting injury death rates based on preliminary data, as these tend to be underestimated. See Deaths: Preliminary data for 2011, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_06.pdf.

SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System.

  • In 2011, the death rate for children ages 1–4 was 26 per 100,000 children, not significantly different from 27 per 100,000 in 2010. For children ages 5–14 in 2010 and 2011, the death rate was 13 per 100,000 children. Between 1980 and 2009, the death rate declined nearly 60 percent for both age groups.
  • Among both younger and older children, Black children had the highest death rates in 2011, at 38 per 100,000 children ages 1–4, and 18 per 100,000 children ages 5–14. Asian or Pacific Islander children had the lowest death rates (14 per 100,000 children ages 1–4 and 9 per 100,000 children ages 5–14).
  • In 2011, among children ages 1–4 and 5–14, unintentional injuries (accidents) were the leading cause of death: 8 deaths per 100,000 children ages 1–4 and 4 deaths per 100,000 children ages 5–14. For children ages 1–4, the next most frequent causes of death were birth defects (3 per 100,000 children) and homicide and cancer (2 per 100,000 each). For children ages 5–14, the next most frequent causes of death were cancer (2 per 100,000) and birth defects (1 per 100,000 children).
  • In 2011, the injury (intentional and unintentional) death rate was 11 per 100,000 for children ages 1–4 and 6 per 100,000 for children ages 5–14.
  • Between 1980 and 2010, motor vehicle traffic death rates declined more than 70 percent and drowning death rates declined by one-half among children ages 1–4.
  • In 2011, among children ages 5–14, suicide and homicide were the fourth and fifth leading causes of death (1 death per 100,000 for both), after unintentional injuries, cancer, and birth defects.86

table icon PHY7A HTML TablePHY7B HTML Table

82 National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. (2004). Children's health, the nation's wealth: Assessing and improving child health. Committee on Evaluating Children's Health, Board on Children, Youth and Families, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

83 Corso, P., Finkelstein, E., Miller, T., Fiebelkorn, I., and Zaloshnja, E. (2006). Incidence and lifetime costs of injuries in the United States. Injury Prevention, 12(4), 212–218.

84 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. (2010). National Hospital Discharge Survey, unpublished tabulations.

85 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. (2009–2010). National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, unpublished tabulations.