A study has found hospitalisation rates for child injury have not dropped in 10 years
Unadjusted child deaths following injury hospitalisations have actually increased (from 108 to 149 deaths a year), the report found.
Injury remains the most common cause of death among children, and results in more than twice the number of hospital admissions due to cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease combined.
The study examined the cases of 686,409 children (under age 17) hospitalised with injuries between 1 July 2002 and 30 June 2012 and found that falls were the most common type of injury, accounting for over a third of cases (38.4%).
Injuries involving inanimate mechanical forces (such as getting struck by or striking against objects; getting caught, crushed, jammed or pinched in or between objects) accounted for 17.6% of injury hospitalisations. Transport incidents accounted for 13.7% of injury hospitalisations, while Injuries involving animate mechanical forces (such as getting struck by another person, getting bitten by an animal) accounted for 5.7% and poisoning accounted for 3.7% of injury hospitalisations.
Over the 10 years examined by the study, there were 25,498 cases of poisoning amongst children aged under 17.
Boys were over-represented amongst overall injuries (63.6%), but among poisoning cases in general, the genders were almost evenly split, with 13,481 cases involving boys and 12,017 girls.
There were 34,284 cases of poisoning by drugs, medicaments and biological substances. Here, girls were over-represented, against the general trend: 11,698 cases involved boys, and 22,586 girls.
One co-author, Sydney University Professor and trauma nurse Kate Curtis, told the AJP that “ingestion injury is preventable”.
“Most injuries occur in the home,” she warned.
The study’s authors called for an “urgent national response” to the findings.
“Strong federal government leadership of a coordinated evidence-based national response to child injury prevention is required to achieve real reductions in child injury hospitalisation rates, but currently does not exist,” the reports says. “The development of a national multi-sectorial evidence-informed childhood injury prevention strategy with defined actions and key performance indicators is urgently needed.
“This should be led by a national agency to coordinate injury prevention activities.”
They also called for the implementation of national injury surveillance systems, evidence-based sustainable injury prevention strategies, better quality of care for injured children and focus on vulnerable groups: children from lower socio-economic backgrounds and rural and regional areas were also over-represented in the report.