Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Health Care and Children's Injuries

Children are very susceptible to injury, and each year many thousands of them suffer trauma due to being injured. Accidents happen, and children are also purposely injured by others, including both other adolescents and adults. Also, some of those injuries result in the death of the child.

According to www.DoctorsLounge.com, nationally, deaths attributed to unintentional injuries among persons aged 0–19 years number approximately 12,000 each year in the United States; another 9 million young persons are treated for nonfatal injuries in emergency departments. Quantifying years of potential life lost (YPLL) highlights causes of premature mortality and provides a simple method to identify important causes of early death and specific groups in need of intervention. Although recent declines have been observed in the unintentional injury–related crude mortality rate per 100,000 persons aged 0–19 years (from 15.46 in 2000 to 10.96 in 2009), unintentional injuries remain the number one killer among this population in the United States.

Car crashes, suffocation, drowning, poisoning, fires, and falls are some of the most common ways children are hurt or killed, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The number of children dying from injury dropped nearly 30% over the last decade. However, injury is still the number 1 cause of death among children. More can be done, however, to keep children safe. Very interesting statistics on this topic can be found at this site: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/childinjury/# .

Kids are susceptible to injuries, especially at a younger age. A high risk fact sheet about injuries to children can be found at this website: http://www.safekids.org/our-work/research/fact-sheets/high-risk-fact-safety.html .

According to Fox News, injuries to young children in the U.S. increased for the fourth straight year in 2011, continuing a reversal of a longer-term downward trend that some say may be linked to distracted parents in an age of smartphones.

Children age 4 and under received an estimated 2.5 million nonfatal, non-intentional injuries that landed them in an emergency room last year, according to an estimate released late Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is up from 2.46 million in 2010. There were roughly 12.4 injuries per 100 children of this age in 2011, compared with 12.2 injuries per 100 children in 2010. The number of injuries in this age group has increased each year since 2007, when there were 2.20 million, or 10.9 per 100 children. The numbers are an estimate based on a sampling of emergency rooms.

An article last month in The Wall Street Journal reported that a growing number of child-health experts and law-enforcement officials believe the increase in injuries since 2007 may be due in part to parents who are distracted by mobile devices like Smart phones and not adequately supervising their children. The number of Americans 13 and older who own a Smart phone increased to 114 million earlier this year from nine million in 2007, when Apple Inc. released the iPhone, according to research firm comScore. There aren't any studies that have explored the connection between parents' device use and injuries to children. Many doctors and public-safety experts say it is a subject that should be studied and point out that the uptick may be a statistical anomaly or have other causes.

According to DoctorsLounge.com, death due to unintentional injury was more common in a cluster of south central states and a cluster of mountain states. More than half the deaths were attributable to motor vehicle accidents. Measuring the burden of injuries with YPLL gives greater weight to the injuries that disproportionately affect younger persons. YPLL will help prioritize implementation of known and effective interventions, such as using safety belts, wearing bicycle and motorcycle helmets, reducing drinking and driving, strengthening graduated driver licensing laws, using safety equipment during sports participation, requiring four-sided residential pool fencing, and encouraging safe sleep practices for infants.

A true emergency is when you believe a severe injury or illness is threatening your child's life or may cause permanent harm. In these cases, a child needs emergency medical treatment immediately. Discuss with your child's pediatrician in advance what you should do in case of a true emergency, according to the American Academy of Pediatricians. For a very good list of injuries to children and how to respond, this is a great website: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/injuries-emergencies/Pages/default.aspx . Choose from the list and the follow up page has a comprehensive overview of that particular injury and treatment options.

Also, gun injuries to children continue to be a big issue. Childhood gun and shooting accidents are not rare. They are one of the top ten leading causes of accidental death for all age groups outside of newborns and infants, according to pediatrician, Dr. Vincent Ianelli. Unfortunately, many parents don't store their guns safely, even when they have young kids in the home. In fact, one study showed that 85% of parents who owned guns did not practice safe gun storage. More info about gun safety for children can be found at this site: http://pediatrics.about.com/od/safety/a/gun-accidents.htm.

According to Dr. Ianelli, to protect children from gun and shooting accidents, the typical gun safety advice that you will get from your pediatrician includes that you:

--Keep your guns locked.
--Keep your guns unloaded.
--Keep your ammunition locked.
--Keep your ammunition in a separate area from your gun.

Remember also, in a true emergency situation with an injury to a child of any age, call 911. A first responder such as ambulance, EMT, or fire department or police, can assist you with urgent care on the scene, and then get you transported to a local urgent care facility if necessary. Many injuries can result in death, so the faster the response to urgent care, the better chance for survival. Some cases may not require hospitalization. However, it is always best to have trained medical personnel make that decision for you.

Children are fragile, and they need supervision and watch care, especially during the infant, toddler, and younger adolescent years. When they get older, even teens need some supervision. Accidents are going to happen, and that is a fact of life. Protecting children as much as possible is your role as a parent or guardian. Causing injury to a child is an even greater cause for alarm, and there are significant consequences as a result. If you need assistance or counseling for certain issues concerning the care of your children, seek professional help for any emotional, physical, or mental stress that you may be experiencing. There are many agencies and organizations who can assist you with those types of personal needs to help take care of both children and adolescents. Protect your kids as much as you can.

Until next time.

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