Fewer children dying from injuries in the UK
Over 800 children in the UK die from injuries every year – between 50% to 70% fewer than in 1980 – but the difference in injury rates between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is widening, according to new research.
The study also reveals that injury mortality remains a major problem in adolescents with boys aged 10 to 18 at the highest risk.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, was conducted by researchers at University College London’s Institute of Child Health reveals that disparities in child injury death rates are widening between England, which has the lowest injury death rates, and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where injury mortality rates are significantly higher.
If all countries had the same injury mortality rate as England for 10-18 year old children, between2006-2010 there would have been 52 fewer deaths per year in total (29 in Scotland, 8 in Wales, 15 in Northern Ireland)
The study also finds that death rates from injuries in boys aged 10 to 18 years are 2.7 times higher than in girls of the same age; the decline in deaths due to injury since the 1980s seen in the UK is due to a decrease in injuries caused by accidents; and, there has been no decline in mortality rates due to injuries caused by self-harm, assault or injuries of undetermined causes in children aged 10 years or over since 1980.
Deaths due to injuries caused by assault, self-harm or undetermined causes account for 34% of injury deaths in boys and 37% of all injury deaths in girls aged 10 to 18 years.
The differences between countries and the different trends according to type of injury, means better targeting of prevention efforts are required, say the report authors.
Professor Ruth Gilbert, research lead for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “This research shows that injury death rates are going down in children which is very good news. But we must not become complacent: in older children, differences between countries in injury death rates are widening, which means more can be done to reduce the risk of injury in children, particularly in older children and young adults.
“The big tragedy shown in our research is that there has been no decline in deaths due to suicide and assault in older children in any UK country since 1980. This might surprise a lot of people because these types of injuries might be thought of as the most preventable.
“The risk factors that contribute to deaths due to suicide or assault in children are complex and often accumulate over childhood. They include combinations of factors such as deprivation, alcohol or drug misuse and other mental health problems in children and their parents.”
The study was conducted using data from death certificates and looked at the causes of death of children aged between 28 days and 18 years in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland between 1980 and 2010.
The research undertaken by University College London is part of a larger programme of work – Child Health Reviews UK – a UK-wide project led by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, funded by the HQIP on behalf of the departments of health in the four UK countries.