17 April 2012

Accidental Child Death Rates Drop Significantly

Story first appeared in USA Today.

The number of children and teens who die from any kind of accidents has dropped nearly 30% from 2000 to 2009, mostly because of a decline in traffic deaths, says a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The good news — that more than 11,000 lives have been saved by the reductions in unintentional deaths for those from birth to age 19 over that period — is offset by the sobering news that more than 9,000 young people still die annually from motor-vehicle-related accidents, fires, poisoning, drowning, falls and other unintentional injuries.

Unintentional injuries are still the leading cause of death in the United States for children 1-19 and the fifth-leading cause of death for newborns and infants age 1, the report says. Personal Injury Lawyers in San Diego are concerned about these statistics.

Most of these events are predictable and preventable.

Keeping Your Baby Safe

Some infants die during sleep from unsafe sleep environments. Some of these deaths are from entrapment, suffocation, and strangulation.

Some infants die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, there are ways for parents to keep their sleeping baby safe, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. The group offers these guidelines for safe sleeping for healthy babies up to one year of age.

- Place your baby to sleep on his back for every sleep.

- Place your baby to sleep on a firm sleep surface.

- Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the crib.

- Place your baby to sleep in the same room where you sleep but not the same bed.

- Breastfeed as much and for as long as you can.

- Schedule and go to all well-child visits.

- Keep your baby away from smokers and places where people smoke.

- Do not let your baby get too hot.

- Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.

- Do not use products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Note: A very small number of babies with certain medical conditions may need to be placed to sleep on their stomachs. Your baby’s doctor can tell you what is best for your baby.

A large part of the decline in unintentional deaths was a 41% drop in childhood vehicle-related crash deaths between 2000 and 2009, although they still remain the leading cause of unintentional injury death.

Among the reasons for the decline: improvements in child safety and booster seat use and use of graduated drivers' licensing systems for teen drivers.

There are still troubling trends. Poisoning death rates climbed 91% among teens ages 15-19, largely because of overdoses on prescription drugs such as painkillers. Miami Personal Injury Lawyers indicate that this statistic matches with what they have seen in their field.

One puzzling finding was a 54% rise in deaths from suffocation among babies younger than 1.

The deaths from suffocation is a troubling number. Part of the increase may be because of improved death-scene investigation and classification. Previously a suffocation death might have been classified as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is not included in the study — it's a diagnosis issued when there isn't an explanation for how a child died.

Whether it's a new increase or whether it's the way it has been — it's still almost a thousand infants in a year who are suffocating in their beds in environments that we know aren't safe.

She says many infant deaths from both SIDS and suffocation could be avoided if parents followed the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendations: Infants should sleep in safe cribs, alone, on their backs, with no loose bedding or soft toys.

In 2009, child and adolescent unintentional injuries resulted in about 9,000 deaths, 225,000 hospitalizations and 8.4 million patients treated and released from emergency departments. State death rates varied widely: Mississippi's was more than six times that of Massachusetts.

Unintentional injuries among children in 2005 that resulted in death, hospitalization or an emergency department visit cost nearly $11.5 billion in medical expenses.

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