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What causes pediatric injury?

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The most common causes of pediatric injury are1,2,3:

  • Motor vehicle accidents

    In children ages 5 to 19:

    • Injuries from motor vehicle accidents are the top cause of death from injury.
    • Every hour, almost 150 children visit emergency departments due to serious injuries from motor vehicle accidents.
  • Suffocation (being unable to breathe)
    • Infants are most likely to suffocate while they sleep.
    • Toddlers are most at risk from suffocating by choking on food or other small objects.
  • Drowning
    • Drowning is the most common cause of death from injury in children ages 1 to 4.
    • Three children die every day from drowning.
  • Poisoning
    • Two children die every day from poisoning.
    • Each day, more than 300 children ages 0 to 19 in the United States go to emergency departments because of poisoning.
    • Common sources of poisoning include household chemicals, cleaners, and medicines.
  • Burns
    • Two children die every day from being burned.
    • Each day, more than 300 children ages 0 to 19 arrive in emergency departments to be treated for burns.
    • Younger children are more likely to be burned by hot liquids or steam.
    • Older children are more likely to be burned from direct contact with fire.
  • Falls
    • Falls are the most common cause of nonfatal injuries for children ages 0 to 19.
    • Each day, about 8,000 children visit emergency departments due to injuries from falls.

For more information on the causes of injuries in children, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Safe Child website.

Although the NICHD conducts and supports research on pediatric injury, its treatments, and its long-term outcomes, the Institute is not the primary federal source of information for non-researchers on injury statistics and information on preventing pediatric injuries. The CDC and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) provide a range of information for parents, caregivers, and families about ways to prevent childhood injury, safety recommendations, and product warnings and recalls. For more information, visit:


  1. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Child injury. Retrieved August 22, 2012, from http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/ChildInjury/index.html [top]
  2. Borse, N. N., Gilchrist, J., Dellinger, A. M., Rudd, R. A., Ballesteros, M. F., Sleet, D. A. (2008). CDC childhood injury report: patterns of unintentional injuries among 0-19 year olds in the United States, 2000-2006. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. [top]
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention. (2012). Protect the ones you love: child injuries are preventable. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from http://www.cdc.gov/safechild [top]

Last Updated Date: 12/09/2013
Last Reviewed Date: 10/23/2013
Vision National Institutes of Health Home BOND National Institues of Health Home Home Storz Lab: Section on Environmental Gene Regulation Home Machner Lab: Unit on Microbial Pathogenesis Home Division of Intramural Population Health Research Home Bonifacino Lab: Section on Intracellular Protein Trafficking Home Lilly Lab: Section on Gamete Development Home Lippincott-Schwartz Lab: Section on Organelle Biology