Most Accidental Child Deaths Happen at Home
Study: Most Accidental Child Deaths Preventable
WebMD News Archive
Aug. 1, 2005 -- Next to your car, your home may be one of the most dangerous
places for your child.
New research shows that aside from motor vehicle injuries, children are more
likely to die from an accidental injury they sustained at home than in any
The study shows that despite recent reductions in unintentional injuries at
home, more than half of child deaths caused by accidental injuries in a known
location happen at home. The top causes of accidental deaths among children at
home were fires, submersion in water, suffocation, poisoning, and falls.
Researchers say child deaths due to intentional injuries and child abuse may
get more attention, but child deaths caused by unintentional injuries at home
occur far more often, and most could have been prevented with adequate safety
measures and supervision.
Where Accidental Child Deaths Happen
In the study, which appears in the August issue of Pediatrics,
researchers analyzed injury-related deaths among children under 20 from
1985-1997 using National Vital Statistics System Mortality Data.
The results show that more than 14,500 children died each year from
unintentional injuries. Of those, 65% of the injuries were caused by motor
vehicle injuries, railway accidents, or medical complications not coded for
location of injury occurrence. The other 35% of unintentional injuries happened
in a known location.
Of the more than 5,100 unintentional injuries that happened each year in a
known location, more than half (55%) of the injuries happened at home.
Researchers say the rate of fatal accidents at home decreased by 22% from
1987 to 1997. The majority of unintentional injuries sustained at home were
preventable, such as injuries due to fire, drowning, or poisoning.
The death rate due to accidental injuries in the home was highest among
infants under 1 year of age and children aged 1-5 years compared with other age
Boys were nearly twice as likely to die from unintentional injuries
sustained at home as girls. Black children were also twice as likely to die
from accidental injuries at home as white children.
Researchers say the racial differences in accidental child death rates may
be due to substandard housing, lower levels of education, and poverty. They say
strategies to develop and enforce health-based housing standards could
dramatically reduce the number of accidental child deaths at home.