NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 9, 2009

While the total mortality rate from unintentional injury increased in the United States by 11 percent between 1999 and 2005, far larger increases were seen in some subgroups analyzed by age, race, ethnicity and type of injury.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Injury Research and Policy found that white women between 45 and 64 years old experienced a 230 percent increase in the rate of poisoning mortality over the study period. White men in this age group experienced an increase of 137 percent.

Moreover, researchers found mortality rates from falls varied widely across age and gender:

  • The death rate from falls increased 38 percent for white men and 48 percent for white women 65 and older.
  • The mortality rate did not increase significantly for older blacks of either sex.
  • Moreover, 89 percent of the total increase in unintentional injury deaths in the United States between 1999 and 2005 was due to poisoning among those 15 to 64 years old and falls among those 45 and older, which increased by about 11,200 and 6,600, respectively.
  • In addition to falls and poisoning, four other leading causes of intentional injury deaths were identified for subsequent analyses: suffocation, drowning, fire/burns and motor vehicle crashes.

Overall, the large increases in the number of deaths attributable to poisoning and falls underscore the need for more research on the specific circumstances involved, say researchers.  While they don't know the cause behind the recent increase in falls mortality, it appears that the increase in poisonings is largely due to prescription drugs.

But by teasing out the impact of gender, age and race on trends in mortality rates, we are able to better identify changes worthy of attention from clinicians and policymakers, say researchers.

Source: Editorial, "Deaths From Unintentional Injuries Increase For Many Groups," ScienceDaily, September 3, 2009; based upon: Guoging Hu and Susan P. Baker, "Trends in Unintentional Injury Deaths, U.S., 1999-2005: Age, Gender, and Racial/Ethnic Differences," American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Vol. 37, No. 3, September 2009.

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