Monday, January 16th, 2012
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report that provides the most up-to-date data on causes of death in the United States. This builds on prior research and continues to deliver a critical public health message for parents: the most frequent cause of death for children is accidents.
The CDC report is lengthy and they will eventually publish more user-friendly reports. But since the most recent data confirm prior reports, it’s worth your time to revisit prior findings published on the CDC website and look at a visual representation of the leading causes of death for kids. And note the following from that report (drawn from data collected a few years ago):
“For those age 5-34 in the United States, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death…”
A breakdown of the newer statistics is available on the blog “The Incidental Economist.” Blogger Dr. Aaron Carroll – who is a pediatrician – provides a sobering review of the latest numbers which I encourage you to read. While there are many important issues covered by Dr. Carroll (including the frequency of homicide and suicide as causes of death at different ages), I’d like to focus on one of the findings from the latest data that he highlights: Car accidents is one of the most frequent causes of death across age groups (the CDC breaks down ages as: 1-4 years old; 5-14 years old; and 15-24 years old).
The reason I highlight this is that parents should be doing everything they can to make their kids as safe as possible when they are in the car. PLEASE NOTE THAT I HAVE REVISED THIS POST AS OF 10:04 PM EST ON JANUARY 16. MANY READERS FOUND THE PRIOR INFORMATION CONFUSING. TO MAKE SURE PARENTS HAVE THE MOST RECENT INFORMATION, PLEASE CLICK ON THIS LINK FOR GUIDELINES PROVIDED BY THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO HAVE SUGGESTED THAT THIS WOULD BE THE MOST HELPFUL LINK FOR READERS.
If you follow these guidelines, can you guarantee your child won’t be injured or killed in a car accident? Of course not. But you can be sure that you will be significantly reducing their risk of both. The CDC estimates that child safety seats reduce the risk of death in car crashes by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers.
Look, I found car seats to be a major hassle when my daughter was young. I found it hard to figure out which ones were best. They were a pain to install. My daughter wasn’t thrilled about sitting in one. But I tried hard to get information from my pediatrician and my local police station. We were vigilant about using them. And a few years ago, we were happy we did. My wife and daughter were at a complete stop in traffic (the 4th of 5 cars waiting for a car to make a left turn) about a quarter mile from our home. A driver wasn’t paying attention and plowed into that line of cars with enough force to push five cars together. Fortunately my wife and daughter had appropriate safety restraints on and were not seriously hurt (the same could be said for all the other passengers in other vehicles). I can guarantee you it would have been much worse if they didn’t.
Luck and chance play a role in life – both bad and good. But as parents we might as well do everything we can to try to protect our kids. As Dr. Carroll said in his blog post:
We know what kills kids. We see the results every year… Let’s act on that.
PLEASE NOTE A NEW IMAGE OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS HAS BEEN INSERTED. THE PRIOR IMAGE OF A BABY IN A CAR SEAT WAS REMOVED BY ME AS MANY READERS FOUND THAT IT COULD BE PROMOTING IMPROPER USAGE.