Injuries leading to hospitalisation in the first year of life : analysis by trimester of age using coded data and textual description
Siskind, Victor & Scott, Debbie (2013) Injuries leading to hospitalisation in the first year of life : analysis by trimester of age using coded data and textual description. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 37(2), pp. 168-172.
Objective: To describe unintentional injuries to children aged less than one year, using coded and textual information, in three-month age bands to reflect their development over the year.
Methods: Data from the Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit was used. The Unit collects demographic, clinical and circumstantial details about injured persons presenting to selected emergency departments across the State. Only injuries coded as unintentional in children admitted to hospital were included for this analysis.
Results: After editing, 1,082 children remained for analysis, 24 with transport-related injuries. Falls were the most common injury, but becoming proportionately less over the year, whereas burns and scalds and foreign body injuries increased. The proportion of injuries due to contact with persons or objects varied little, but poisonings were relatively more common in the first and fourth three-month periods. Descriptions indicated that family members were somehow causally involved in 16% of injuries. Our findings are in qualitative agreement with comparable previous studies.
Conclusion: The pattern of injuries varies over the first year of life and is clearly linked to the child's increasing mobility.
Implications: Injury patterns in the first year of life should be reported over shorter intervals. Preventive measures for young children need to be designed with their rapidly changing developmental stage in mind, using a variety of strategies, one of which could be opportunistic developmentally specific education of parents. Injuries in young children are of abiding concern given their immediate health and emotional effects, and potential for long-term adverse sequelae. In Australia, in the financial year 2006/07, 2,869 children less than 12 months of age were admitted to hospital for an unintentional injury, a rate of 10.6 per 1,000, representing a considerable economic and social burden. Given that many of these injuries are preventable, this is particularly concerning.
Most epidemiologic studies analyse data in five-year age bands, so children less than five years of age are examined as a group. This study includes only those children younger than one year of age to identify injury detail lost in analyses of the larger group, as we hypothesised that the injury pattern varied with the developmental stage of the child.
The authors of several North American studies have commented that in dealing with injuries in pre-school children, broad age groupings are inadequate to do justice to the rapid developmental changes in infancy and early childhood, and have in consequence analysed injuries in shorter intervals. To our knowledge, no similar analysis of Australian infant injuries has been published to date. This paper describes injury in children less than 12 months of age using data from the Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit (QISU).
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