Background: In Canada, there are many formal public health programs under development that aim to prevent injuries in the early years (e.g. 0-6). There are paradoxically no population-based studies that have examined patterns of injury by developmental stage among these young children. This represents a gap in the Canadian biomedical literature. The current population-based analysis explores external causes and consequences of injuries experienced by young children who present to the emergency department for assessment and treatment. This provides objective evidence about prevention priorities to be considered in anticipatory counseling and public health planning.
Methods: Four complete years of data (1999-2002; n = 5876 cases) were reviewed from the Kingston sites of the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP), an ongoing injury surveillance initiative. Epidemiological analyses were used to characterize injury patterns within and across age groups (0-6 years) that corresponded to normative developmental stages.
Results: The average annual rate of emergency department-attended childhood injury was 107 per 1000 (95% CI 91-123), with boys experiencing higher annual rates of injury than girls (122 vs. 91 per 1000; p < 0.05). External causes of injury changed substantially by developmental stage. This lead to the identification of four prevention priorities surrounding 1) the optimization of supervision; 2) limiting access to hazards; 3) protection from heights; and 4) anticipation of risks.
Conclusion: This population-based injury surveillance analysis provides a strong evidence-base to inform and enhance anticipatory counseling and other public health efforts aimed at the prevention of childhood injury during the early years.