Regional surveillance of medically-attended farm-related injuries in children and adolescents

Front Public Health. 2022 Dec 14:10:1031618. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2022.1031618. eCollection 2022.


Purpose: Due to numerous environmental hazards such as heavy machinery and large livestock, youth who live and work on farms are at high risk of injury, disability, and death. This study described a regional surveillance system for monitoring farm-related injuries in children and adolescents. As the risk of farm-related injuries are not exclusive to farm residents, trends in farm-related injuries over the previous 5 years were reported and compared between children/adolescents who did and did not live on farms in north-central Wisconsin.

Methods: A retrospective cohort of child and adolescent patients of the Marshfield Clinic Health System was assembled. Incident farm-related injuries, including from agricultural work or other activities in a farm environment, were extracted from medical records from 2017 through 2021. Generalized linear models were created to compare age- and sex-adjusted farm-related injury rates by year.

Results: There were 4,730 (5%) in-farm and 93,420 (95%) out-farm children and adolescents in the cohort. There were 65 incident farm-related injury cases in the in-farm group and 412 in the out-farm group. The annual incidence rate of farm-related injuries was higher in the in-farm group, but changes during the 5-year timeframe were not significant in either group. In the in-farm group, rates ranged from a high of 61.8 [95% confidence interval (CI): 38.3, 94.5] incident farm-related injuries per 10,000 children/adolescents in 2017 to a low of 28.2 (13.5, 51.9) injuries per 10,000 children/adolescents in 2018. In the out-farm group, rates ranged from 10.7 (8.3, 13.6) to 16.8 (13.7, 20.5) incident farm-related injuries per 10,000 children/adolescents per year between 2017 and 2021. The in-farm group had a higher proportion of injured males and heavy machinery injuries, while the out-farm group had more all-terrain vehicle injuries and pesticide poisonings.

Conclusion: Farm residency remains hazardous for children and adolescents, as injury rates were three times higher in the in-farm group and remained stable over 5 years. All-terrain vehicle injuries were high in both groups, and should be a priority in rural safety interventions. With additional adaptations to other states, this surveillance model could be scaled across other healthcare systems.

Keywords: USA; agriculture; children; injuries; surveillance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Agriculture*
  • Child
  • Farms
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rural Population*