Mortality Risk in Pediatric Motor Vehicle Crash Occupants: Accounting for Developmental Stage and Challenging Abbreviated Injury Scale Metrics

Traffic Inj Prev. 2015;16 Suppl 2:S201-8. doi: 10.1080/15389588.2015.1048337.


Objective: Survival risk ratios (SRRs) and their probabilistic counterpart, mortality risk ratios (MRRs), have been shown to be at odds with Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) severity scores for particular injuries in adults. SRRs have been validated for pediatrics but have not been studied within the context of pediatric age stratifications. We hypothesized that children with similar motor vehicle crash (MVC) injuries may have different mortality risks (MR) based upon developmental stage and that these MRs may not correlate with AIS severity.

Methods: The NASS-CDS 2000-2011 was used to define the top 95% most common AIS 2+ injuries among MVC occupants in 4 age groups: 0-4, 5-9, 10-14, and 15-18 years. Next, the National Trauma Databank 2002-2011 was used to calculate the MR (proportion of those dying with an injury to those sustaining the injury) and the co-injury-adjusted MR (MRMAIS) for each injury within 6 age groups: 0-4, 5-9, 10-14, 15-18, 0-18, and 19+ years. MR differences were evaluated between age groups aggregately, between age groups based upon anatomic injury patterns and between age groups on an individual injury level using nonparametric Wilcoxon tests and chi-square or Fisher's exact tests as appropriate. Correlation between AIS and MR within each age group was also evaluated.

Results: MR and MRMAIS distributions of the most common AIS 2+ injuries were right skewed. Aggregate MR of these most common injuries varied between the age groups, with 5- to 9-year-old and 10- to 14-year-old children having the lowest MRs and 0- to 4-year-old and 15- to 18-year-old children and adults having the highest MRs (all P <.05). Head and thoracic injuries imparted the greatest mortality risk in all age groups with median MRMAIS ranging from 0 to 6% and 0 to 4.5%, respectively. Injuries to particular body regions also varied with respect to MR based upon age. For example, thoracic injuries in adults had significantly higher MRMAIS than such injuries among 5- to 9-year-olds and 10- to 14-year-olds (P =.04; P <.01). Furthermore, though AIS was positively correlated with MR within each age group, less correlation was seen for children than for adults. Large MR variations were seen within each AIS grade, with some lower AIS severity injuries demonstrating greater MRs than higher AIS severity injuries. As an example, MRMAIS in 0- to 18-year-olds was 0.4% for an AIS 3 radius fracture versus 1.4% for an AIS 2 vault fracture.

Conclusions: Trauma severity metrics are important for outcome prediction models and can be used in pediatric triage algorithms and other injury research. Trauma severity may vary for similar injuries based upon developmental stage, and this difference should be reflected in severity metrics. The MR-based data-driven determination of injury severity in pediatric occupants of different age cohorts provides a supplement or an alternative to AIS severity classification for pediatric occupants in MVCs.

Keywords: AIS; mortality risk; pediatric mortality; pediatric motor vehicle crashes; pediatric trauma triage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abbreviated Injury Scale*
  • Accidents, Traffic / mortality*
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / mortality
  • Databases, Factual
  • Fractures, Bone / mortality
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Risk Assessment
  • Thoracic Injuries / mortality
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality*