Objectives: To describe the epidemiology of injuries among children in Karachi, Pakistan.
Study design: Retrospective case series.
Methods: Data on children aged < or =15 years who were injured between October 1993 and January 1996 were extracted from the logs of the main provider of emergency medical transportation, and were classified according to the World Health Organization's basic data set for information on injuries.
Results: We identified 1320 cases of injuries in children < or =15 years old. The major causes were: motor vehicle crashes (MVC) (80%), falls other than from vehicles (5%), burns (5%) and drowning (3%). One in six of these children (15%) died either at the scene of the accident or during transportation to the hospital. The majority of deaths were either due to MVCs (67%) or drowning (18%) Large vehicles (buses, minibuses and trucks) were involved in 54% of all childhood road traffic injuries. Almost one-third (33%) of burns took place in the kitchen at home, and half (51%) of all drowning cases occurred in the sea.
Conclusions: The majority of children transported by the ambulance service were male and were victims of MVCs. Prevention efforts aimed at stricter enforcement of driving laws and family/child education geared towards pedestrian safety could potentially reduce morbidity and mortality. This study also highlights the role of the prehospital transport system in injury surveillance.