Child Injury Control: Trends, Themes, and Controversies

Published:September 10, 2013DOI:


      Injury is a major cause of morbidity and mortality among US children, and an important driver of health status globally. Despite its enormous burden, injury is preventable. Over the last 10 years, significant progress has been made in the reduction of unintentional injury among US children. However, aggregate trends mask important disparities by age group, region, and injury mechanism. Basic and translation research is needed to develop and test prevention strategies to address these new or recalcitrant problems. Motor vehicle occupant injury has fallen to historic lows, but challenges remain in protecting novice drivers and managing the distraction of new technologies. Injury to pedestrians has also declined, but likely as a result of decreased exposure as fewer children walk. This calls for a broader public health perspective to promote activity while enhancing safety. Deaths due to drowning are common and illustrate the difficulty in measuring and promoting appropriate supervision. Environmental modification and use of protective products may be a more appropriate response. Concussion in sport is another challenging issue: public health laws promote identification and appropriate management of concussed athletes, but less progress has been made on primary prevention of these injuries. Unintentional poisoning is on the rise, attributable to misuse of, and overdose with, prescription opioids. Injury deaths to infants are also increasing. This trend is driven in part by better death investigation that classifies more sleep-related deaths as suffocation events. Finally, we examine a sample of cross-cutting themes and controversies in injury control that might be amenable to empiric evaluation.


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