Annual Risk of Death Resulting From Short Falls Among Young Children: Less Than 1 in 1 Million

Pediatrics. 2008 Jun;121(6):1213-24. doi: 10.1542/peds.2007-2281.


Objective: The objective of the work was to develop an estimate of the risk of death resulting from short falls of <1.5 m in vertical height, affecting infants and young children between birth and the fifth birthday.

Methods: A review of published materials, including 5 book chapters, 2 medical society statements, 7 major literature reviews, 3 public injury databases, and 177 peer-reviewed, published articles indexed in the National Library of Medicine, was performed.

Results: The California Epidemiology and Prevention for Injury Control Branch injury database yielded 6 possible fall-related fatalities of young children in a population of 2.5 million young children over a 5-year period. The other databases and the literature review produced no data that would indicate a higher short-fall mortality rate. Most publications that discuss the risk of death resulting from short falls say that such deaths are rare. No deaths resulting from falls have been reliably reported from day care centers.

Conclusions: The best current estimate of the mortality rate for short falls affecting infants and young children is <0.48 deaths per 1 million young children per year. Additional research is suggested.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / mortality*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Risk Factors