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, 29 (2), 174-80

Epidemiology of Balcony Fall-Related Injuries, United States, 1990-2006

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Epidemiology of Balcony Fall-Related Injuries, United States, 1990-2006

Brenda J Shields et al. Am J Emerg Med.

Abstract

Background: Falls from heights are common in urban areas in the United States. This study describes the epidemiology of balcony fall-related injuries requiring emergency department (ED) treatment among children and adults in the United States from 1990 through 2006.

Methods: In 2009, a retrospective analysis of data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission was conducted to describe the epidemiology of balcony fall-related injuries.

Results: An estimated 86,500 (95% confidence interval [CI], 68,400-104,600) balcony fall-related injuries were treated in US hospital EDs from 1990 through 2006; 70% of cases were male; 63% were adults (≥18 years old); 94% of injury events occurred at home; 24% of patients were hospitalized; and 8 patients died. The rate of balcony fall-related injuries among children decreased significantly during 1990 to 2006 and was similar to that of adults by the end of the study period. Fall heights ranged from 5 to 87.5 ft. Structural failure of the balcony was involved in an estimated 5600 cases. Patients younger than 18 years were more likely to sustain a concussion/closed head injury (relative risk, 2.42; 95% CI, 1.84-3.18) or skull fracture (relative risk, 5.86; 95% CI, 2.58-13.30) than adults.

Conclusions: This is the first study of balcony fall-related injuries requiring emergency treatment using a nationally representative sample. Balcony falls are an important cause of injury in the United States. Age, male sex, and warm months of the year were associated with balcony fall-related injuries in our study population.

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