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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Johns Hopkins: Accidental Suffocations Leading Cause of Unintentional Deaths Among Infants

Eighty percent of unintentional deaths among infants, defined as children less than one year of age, were due to accidental suffocations and, of those deaths, 76 percent were due to accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed, according to a new study led by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy. The Center is based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The report, Child Injury in the United States, was supported and published by Fundación MAPFRE, a nonprofit organization created by MAPFRE (Medical Alliance Partnership) Group. For their analysis, the researchers used publicly available data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control to examine unintentional and intentional injuries among children, from birth to 14 years of age, from 2005 to 2017.

The researchers found that children less than one year of age have an accidental death rate three times higher than children ages one to four and seven times higher than children ages five to 14. The most common cause of unintentional injury death among children ages one to 14 was transportation-related, including children as passengers in cars, on motorcycles and bicycles and as pedestrians.

More than 77 million nonfatal injuries to children, from birth to age 14, were treated in U.S. emergency departments from 2005 to 2017. For all ages, falls were the most common cause, representing 37 percent of all such injuries.

Dr. Andrea C. Gielen, center director, and Ms. Eileen McDonald, the center’s associate director for translation, are the report’s lead authors. Both hold faculty appointments in the Bloomberg School’s department of health, behavior and society.

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