NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Children's Accidental Death Rate Falls

May 1, 2003

Children's death rates from unintentional injury have dropped by almost 40 percent since 1987, according to a 13-year study released by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign.

Unintentional injury is the top killer of children under 14, ahead of cancer and birth defects. More than 5,600 children in the United States die annually from unintentional injuries.

  • Motor vehicle occupant injury declined 16 percent but remained the leading cause of unintentional injury death, followed by drowning and pedestrian injury.
  • Bicycle-related deaths dropped 60 percent.
  • Firearms deaths showed the largest decrease, down 72 percent.
  • The least progress was made in poisoning prevention, down just 5 percent, although the category saw a 41 percent decline from 1981 to 1987.

Poverty is the primary predictor of fatal injury, the report says. Sex and race also are factors: boys and minorities are affected at significantly higher rates. Native American and black children are the highest risk groups, about twice as prone to fatal injury as white children.

Children under 1 year old were the most at-risk overall, with a death rate more than twice that of all children. Airway obstruction posed the most serious threat, accounting for 60 percent of deaths.

The study, which was sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, is based on data from the National Vital Statistics System of the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the years 1987 to 2000.

Source: In-Sung Yoo, "Study: Kids' Deadly Accidents Down 40 percent," USA Today, May 1, 2003.

For USA Today text


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