The National Vital Statistics program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its findings on causes of death in 2010, and for children, the findings may be surprising and alarming.
Pediatrician Aaron Carroll parsed the figures on his blog and revealed that accidents, especially car accidents, were the number one killer of children ages 1-14, claiming 1,339 kids' lives in 2010.
Surprisingly high on the list was homicide, ranking as the number 3 cause of death among 1-4 year-olds, and the number 5 cause among 5-14-year-olds. Among this latter group, homicide was edged out by suicide, which claimed 273 5-14 year-olds in 2010.
Cancer ranked second among 5-14 year-olds and 4th among 1-4 year-olds. Influenza was the sixth leading cause of death for 1-4 year-olds.
Carroll, who works in a children's hospital, offered these insights into how health care providers can use this data:
I work in a children's hospital, and I know legions of people who work every year to save kids lives. I think it's one of the most worthy causes there is. But I rarely see massive campaigns and fund-raising drives to prevent assault and homicide. I don't see many for suicide. I don't see ribbons for safer cars. Yet these are the things that kill children in droves. More small children were killed in assaults than for all cancers combined. When you get into the 15-24 year old range, accidents (especially cars) are #1, homicide is #2, and suicide is #3.
Image: Police siren, via Shutterstock.