Injuries to children show definite patterns

Injuries to children are often preventable and always unfortunate. But parents taking their child to a doctor for treatment of an injury--everything from cuts to broken bones to a peanut stuck in the nose--can take solace knowing that injuries to children--especially boys--are a fact of growing up.

A new study out of the University of Alberta shows that 84 per cent of children will sustain an injury before the age of 10 that requires professional medical attention, and 73 per cent will sustain at least two or more such injuries. The study also shows that in any given year there is a 21 per cent chance that a child under 10 will visit a doctor due to an injury. The results come from a database of more than 96,000 children--about 80 per cent of all children born in Alberta between 1985 and 1988.

"That 84 per cent of all children will see a doctor for an injury before the age of 10 struck me as quite high," said Dr. Donald Spady, a professor of pediatrics at the U of A and lead author of the study. "But the numbers are similar to the estimates made by other researchers, and they fit into a pattern, so we have a good deal of confidence in them." Spady believes this study is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind that has ever been done. Results from it are published this month in the journal Pediatrics.

The study revealed consistent patterns in the types of injuries sustained, and who sustains them. For example, boys are 10 per cent more likely than girls to see a doctor for an injury before the age of 10. It also shows that children are most susceptible to suffering certain injuries at different stages of growing up. For example, the risk of suffering a burn or poisoning between the ages of one and three is high, after which these risks decrease substantially.

"We see that burns peak at age one, which is an age when children start standing, exploring, and grabbing things. At this age they can begin to pull things down, s

Contact: Ryan Smith
University of Alberta

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