Injury Is Number 1 Cause of Death in Children: 54% Increase in Infant Suffocations, 91% Increase in Teen Deaths From Poisoning / Prescription Drug Overdose

Injury Is Number 1 Cause of Death in Children: 54% Increase in Infant Suffocations, 91% Increase in Teen Deaths From Poisoning / Prescription Drug Overdose

The latest report from the Center for Disease Control should be considered good news, and it is, if you focus solely on the fact that overall, children are safer today than they have been in the past.  The rate of children dying from accidental injuries fell 30%.  That’s good news.

However, accidental injuries still kill way too many kids in this country, and importantly, this report confirms something that we’ve been monitoring for awhile now:  prescription drugs injure and kill people in this country in epidemic proportions.  In the CDC’s latest Vital Signs report, the number show a shocking 91% increase in the number of deaths of teenagers (15-19 years old) from poisoning by prescription drug overdoses.

Consider that number again:  NINETY-ONE PERCENT.  Once more, we point out that drugs are products sold by companies for profit.  There is no absolute guarantee that approval by the Food and Drug Administration makes these drugs safe.  There is no absolute guarantee that a doctor or a pharmacist okaying the drug for someone makes it safe for that person, much less anyone else, to take.

Drugs are products subject to state and federal laws just like any other product – tires, strollers, cookware and they are subject to personal injury laws and product liability claims just like any other product in the marketplace.  Be careful out there when using any product.

Here is the CDC’s latest release, with highlighting added:


Unintentional injuries remain number one killer of youth

The death rate due to unintentional injuries decreased by nearly 30% in the past decade according to CDC Vital Signs

Unintentional injuries to children and teens aged 0 to 19 are preventable, yet more than 9,000 children and teens died from injuries in the U.S. in 2009 according to CDC’s Vital Signs released today. Car crashes, suffocation, drowning, poisoning, fires, and falls are some of the most common ways children are hurt or killed. The number of children dying from injury dropped nearly 30% over the last decade.

However, injury is still the #1 cause of death among children. More can be done to keep our children safe.

Although rates for most causes of child injuries have been dropping, suffocation rates are on the rise, with a 54% increase in reported suffocation among infants less than 1 year old, the report says. Poisoning death rates also increased, with a 91% increase among teens aged 15-19, largely due to prescription drug overdose.

“Kids are safer from injuries today than ever before. In fact, the decrease in injury death rates in the past decade has resulted in more than 11,000 children’s lives being saved,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “But we can do more. It’s tragic and unacceptable when we lose even one child to an avoidable injury.”

This Vital Signs report is CDC’s first study to show fatal unintentional injury trends by cause and by state for children from birth to 19 years.

Child injury death rates varied substantially by state in 2009, ranging from less than 5 deaths per 100,000 children in Massachusetts and New Jersey to more than 23 deaths per 100,000 children in South Dakota and Mississippi. Death rates from motor vehicle crashes dropped by 41% from 2000-2009. Several factors have played a role in this reduction, including improvements in child safety and booster seat use and use of graduated drivers licensing systems for teen drivers.

However, crashes remain the leading cause of unintentional injury death for children. This Child Injury Infographic provides a graphic representation of important data related to this Vital Signs topic.

Poisoning deaths have been steadily increasing among 15- to 19 year-olds, largely due to prescription drug overdoses. According to other CDC research, appropriate prescribing, proper storage and disposal, discouraging medication sharing, and state-based prescription drug monitoring programs could reduce these deaths. The increase in suffocation deaths among infants could be curbed by following the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations for safe infant sleeping environments. These recommendations state that infants should sleep in safe cribs, alone, on their backs, with no loose bedding or soft toys.

“Every 4 seconds, a child is treated for an injury in the emergency department, and every hour, a child dies as a result of an injury,” said Linda C. Degutis, Dr.P.H., M.S.N., director of CDC′s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Child injury remains a serious problem in which everyone –including parents, state health officials, health care providers, government and community groups – has a critical role to play to protect and save the lives of our young people.”

CDC and more than 60 partner organizations are releasing a National Action Plan on Child Injury Prevention in conjunction with the Vital Signs report. The National Action Plan’s overall goals are to:

Raise awareness about the problem of child injury and the effects on our nation.
Highlight prevention solutions by uniting stakeholders around a common set of goals and strategies.
Mobilize action on a national, coordinated effort to reduce child injury.

For a copy of the plan and more information about child injury prevention, visit

CDC Vital Signs is a report that appears each month as part of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The report provides the latest data and information on key health indicators such as cancer prevention, obesity, tobacco use, alcohol use, prescription drug overdose, HIV/AIDS, motor vehicle safety, health care-associated infections, cardiovascular health, teen pregnancy, child injuries, and food safety.

CDC works 24/7saving lives, protecting people from health threats, and saving money to have a more secure nation. Whether these threats are chronic or acute, manmade or natural, human error or deliberate attack, global or domestic, CDC is the U.S. health protection agency.

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