Crashes Top Spinal Cord Injury Causes
Auto Accidents Rank First for Kids, Especially Those Not Wearing Seatbelts
WebMD News Archive
Feb. 21, 2007 -- Motor vehicle accidents are the top cause of spinal cord
injury in kids, a new study shows.
The researchers urge kids to wear seatbelts to help prevent such
"Motor vehicle accidents are by far the No. 1 cause of pediatric spinal
cord injury within the U.S., accounting for more than 55% of cases," write
They add that nearly 70% of the children and teens who suffered spinal cord
injury in auto accidents weren't wearing seatbelts when the accident
The findings are based on two large national databases of hospital discharge
records from 1997-2000.
Every year during that time, about 1,400 children and teens aged 0-18 years
were admitted to U.S. hospitals for the treatment of spinal cord injury. That
translates to nearly two children or teens with spinal cord injuries per
Leading Causes of Kids' Spinal Cord Injury
The study was conducted by Michael Vitale, MD, PhD, and colleagues at Morgan
Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian Columbia University
Medical Center in New York.
The top causes of kids' spinal cord injury, according to Vitale's team,
- Motor vehicle accidents: 56%
- Falls: 14%
- Firearm injury: 9%
- Sports injury: 7%
Drugs and alcohol were involved in 82 cases (30%) of the pediatric spinal
cord injuries noted in the study.
Boys at Higher Risk
Boys were more than twice as likely as girls to suffer spinal cord injury,
the study also shows.
"This may be associated with the fact that boys participate in more
violent contact sports (such as football) than girls during childhood, or that
they are more likely to own or drive a car than their female peers,"
Vitale's team writes.
The study also shows that, for unknown reasons, black children "are at
increased risk of spinal cord injury compared with other races," write the
Vitale's team stresses safety to help prevent spinal cord injury.
"Basic education on motor vehicle safety, the importance of seatbelts,
driver awareness, and substance abuse could have significant impact on lowering
a teenager's risk of serious injury, spinal cord injury, or death," the