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CDC: Unintentional Injury Greatest Childhood Killer in U.S.

Last Updated: October 18, 2012.

Between 2000 and 2009, more than 115,000 young people in the United States lost their lives to unintentional injury, the leading cause of death among people 0 to 19 years of age in the United States, according to research published in the Oct. 19 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

THURSDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Between 2000 and 2009, more than 115,000 young people in the United States lost their lives to unintentional injury, the leading cause of death among people 0 to 19 years of age in the United States, according to research published in the Oct. 19 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

Nagesh N. Borse, Ph.D., of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues consulted the National Vital Statistics system multiple causes of death file for the years 2000 to 2009 to estimate years of potential life lost (YPLL) by state, sex, age, race, and mechanism of injury.

The researchers found unintentional injuries to be the cause of 890 YPLL per 100,000 individuals 19 years of age and younger. Males were more likely than females to experience such accidental fatalities. The age groups most affected were those <1 and those 15 to 19, and the ethnic group most affected was Native American/Alaskan Native. 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," Borse and colleagues conclude. "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."

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