Fewer Children Tumbling Down

Accidental deaths for children have decreased but suffocation and poisoning rates went up

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Any parent knows that children are fearless - they will run or climb anywhere without noting dangers around them. But fortunately, accidents are killing fewer kids than ever in the U.S.

A new report called Vital Signs from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reveals that accidental injuries for children from birth to age 19 have decreased almost 30 percent from 2000 to 2009.

"Keep an eye on your children during outside play."

Though these numbers are good news, they are not reason to be complacent. Unintentional injuries are still the number one cause of death for young people, and over 9,000 children died from accidents in 2009.

The most common accidental ways children die is from car crashes, though these deaths have decreased by 41 percent from 2000 to 2009, primarily because of child safety improvements and booster seat use as well as stricter systems for teens to get their licenses.

Other top causes of accidental death include suffocation, drowning, poisoning, fires and falls. In fact, some of these subcategories have seen significant increases, such as the rates of death for suffocation and poisoning.

Deaths of babies under a year old from suffocation have gone up 54 percent in the past decade. These deaths could be reduced, the CDC reports, by encouraging parents to follow safe infant sleeping guidelines. Babies should sleep in safe cribs, alone, on their backs, without loose bedding or soft toys.

Meanwhile, death rates for poisoning have been affected mostly by drug use by adolescents. The report states that poisoning deaths among teenagers aged 15 to 19 have increased 91 percent, primarily because of prescription drug overdoses.

The CDC's other materials provide information on ways to reduce these accidental overdose deaths for teens: ensuring prescriptions are appropriate, storing and disposing of prescription drugs properly, discouraging sharing of medications and using state-run monitoring programs for prescription drugs.

The report is the first by the CDC to separate the causes of death and states where children lived for accidental injuries. They found that 2009 rates for accidental death varied considerably across different states.

South Dakota and Mississippi, for example, had over four times as many kids die per 100,000 children compared to Massachusetts and New Jersey.

“Child injury remains a serious problem in which everyone –including parents, state health officials, health care providers, government and community groups – has a critical role to play to protect and save the lives of our young people," said Linda Degutis, MSN, director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Along with the Vital Signs report, the CDC is also publishing a National Action Plan on Child Injury Prevention to raise awareness about child injuries, educate people about ways to prevent these accidents and develop a "national, coordinated effort to reduce child injury."

“Kids are safer from injuries today than ever before. In fact, the decrease in injury death rates in the past decade has resulted in more than 11,000 children’s lives being saved,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D. “But we can do more. It’s tragic and unacceptable when we lose even one child to an avoidable injury.”

The Vital Signs report was published on the CDC website April 16.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 17, 2012
Last Updated:
April 17, 2012