Childhood injuries and deaths due to falls from windows

J Urban Health. 2000 Mar;77(1):26-33. doi: 10.1007/BF02350960.


Background: Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in children, and falls are the most common type of unintentional injury in the US. The incidence of falls from windows, a common cause of death in urban areas, has not been described outside major cities such as New York and Chicago, and rates in urban and suburban areas have not been compared.

Objective: To estimate the incidence and identify the population at risk for falls from windows among children in Hamilton County, Ohio.

Design: Retrospective case series identified using Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (CHMC) Trauma Registry.

Setting: Hamilton County, Ohio, which has urban and nonurban areas.

Participants: Children less than 15 years old residing in Hamilton County, Ohio, presenting to CHMC in Cincinnati, Ohio, after a fall from a window between January 1, 1991, and December 31, 1997.

Outcome measure: Annual incidence by age, race, gender, and residence of those who fell from windows.

Results: Over the 7-year study period, 86 (6.3%) of 1,363 falls were from windows. The mortality rate for falls from windows was 4.7%, compared to 0.07% for all other falls presenting to CHMC (P<.0001). Children 0-4 years old had a higher rate of falls than children aged 5-14 (14.6/100,000 vs. 2.0/100,000) (P<.0001). Males were twice as likely to fall as females (P<.016), and black children were three times more likely to fall than non-black children (P<.002). The incidence of falls in the city of Cincinnati was four times that of the non-urban area (P<.0002).

Conclusions: Injuries from falls from windows are a public health problem in Hamilton County, Ohio, especially for young, urban children.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls* / mortality
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Suburban Population
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Urban Population
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality