Accidental deaths of children in U.S. decline

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The rate of accidental deaths among young children in the United States has declined dramatically in recent years, but remains the leading cause of childhood fatalities, a safety advocacy group said on Monday.

A child takes advantage of the heavy snow to ride his sled in Newark, Ohio, March 9, 2008. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan

A study by Safe Kids USA said the rate of childhood injury deaths declined by 45 percent since 1987, from 15.4 per 100,000 to 8.5 per 100,000 in 2005.

“Despite this decline, unintentional injury remains the leading cause of death among children ages one to 14 in the United States,” the group said in its report.

“In fact, 5,162 children ages 14 and under died in 2005 from an unintentional injury, and 6,253,661 emergency room visits for unintentional injuries in this age group occurred in 2006,” the study said.

Many deaths and injuries are preventable, the study said.

But only 58 percent of parents of young children said serious injury or death from an accident was a major concern. That was down from 65 percent in 1987, the study said.

Mothers worry about it more than fathers. About 64 percent of mothers and 51 percent of fathers cite serious injury from accidents as a major worry, the study said.

Accidental deaths of children fell in most risk categories, including car accidents, drowning, fires and burns. But death by suffocation saw a 21 percent increase. The study said one reason for the increase is better investigations on the cause of death. Many deaths that were once attributed to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) are due to suffocation from soft pillows and other bed material or from bed-sharing with a parent, the study said.

Children under the age of four have the highest death rate from accidents of any of the age groups, the study said. Suffocation is the leading cause of accidental death for babies under age one, while drowning is the leading cause for children between one and four, the study said.

Children between the ages of five and nine have the lowest rate of accidental deaths of any of the age groups, the study said. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 10 to 14, it said.

Reporting by Donna Smith; editing by Philip Barbara