Pediatric unintentional injury: behavioral risk factors and implications for prevention

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2007 Jun;28(3):245-54. doi: 10.1097/01.DBP.0000268561.80204.2a.


Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death for children and adolescents between the ages of 1 and 18 in the United States, accounting for more deaths than the next 20 causes of mortality combined. It is estimated that pediatric injury accounts for more than $50 billion in annual losses from medical care costs, future wages, and quality of life. Despite these numbers, much remains to be learned about the behavioral risks for pediatric unintentional injury. This article reviews behavioral risk factors for pediatric unintentional injury risk, with a particular focus on four broad areas. First, we discuss the effects of demographic risk factors, including gender, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity. Second, we present information about child-specific risk factors, including temperament, personality, psychopathology, and cognitive development. Third, we discuss the influence of parents and other primary caregivers on childhood injury risk, with a particular focus on the effects of supervision and parenting quality and style. Finally, we discuss the role of peers on child injury risk. We conclude with a discussion of the ways in which the material reviewed has been translated into injury prevention techniques, with a focus on how pediatricians might use knowledge about etiological risk to prioritize safety counseling topics. We also present thoughts on four priorities for future research: injury risk in diverse nations and cultures; developmental effects of injury; the influence of multiple risk factors together on injury risk; and translation of knowledge about risk for injury into intervention and prevention techniques.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child Rearing
  • Child, Preschool
  • Demography
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Parenting
  • Peer Group
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control*