Unintentional injury deaths in children and youth, 2010-2019

J Safety Res. 2021 Sep:78:322-330. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2021.07.001. Epub 2021 Jul 17.


Background: Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for children and youth aged 1-19 in the United States. The purpose of this report is to describe how unintentional injury death rates among children and youth aged 0-19 years have changed during 2010-2019.

Method: CDC analyzed 2010-2019 data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) to determine two-year average annual number and rate of unintentional injury deaths for children and youth aged 0-19 years by sex, age group, race/ethnicity, mechanism, county urbanization level, and state.

Results: From 2010-2011 to 2018-2019, unintentional injury death rates decreased 11% overall-representing over 1,100 fewer annual deaths. However, rates increased among some groups-including an increase in deaths due to suffocation among infants (20%) and increases in motor-vehicle traffic deaths among Black children (9%) and poisoning deaths among Black (37%) and Hispanic (50%) children. In 2018-2019, rates were higher for males than females (11.3 vs. 6.6 per 100,000 population), children aged < 1 and 15-19 years (31.9 and 16.8 per 100,000) than other age groups, among American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN) and Blacks than Whites (19.4 and 12.4 vs. 9.0 per 100,000), motor-vehicle traffic (MVT) than other causes of injury (4.0 per 100,000), and rates increased as rurality increased (6.8 most urban [large central metro] vs. 17.8 most rural [non-core/non-metro] per 100,000). From 2010-2011 to 2018-2019, 49 states plus DC had stable or decreasing unintentional injury death rates; death rates increased only in California (8%)-driven by poisoning deaths. Conclusion and Practical Application: While the overall injury death rates improved, certain subgroups and their caregivers can benefit from focused prevention strategies, including infants and Black, Hispanic, and AIAN children. Focusing effective strategies to reduce suffocation, MVT, and poisoning deaths among those at disproportionate risk could further reduce unintentional injury deaths among children and youth in the next decade.

Keywords: Child injury; Health equity; Race/ethnicity; Rural/urban.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Injuries*
  • Adolescent
  • Alaskan Natives*
  • Cause of Death
  • Child
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Rural Population
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries*