Sports and recreation injuries in US children and adolescents

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995 Sep;149(9):1009-16. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170220075010.


Objectives: To estimate and describe morbidity from sports and recreation injuries in children and adolescents.

Design: Survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics--the Child Health Supplement to the 1988 National Health Interview Survey.

Setting: The general community.

Participants: Representative sample of the noninstitutionalized civilian US population. Five percent of the eligible households did not participate. The subject of this report is 11,840 children and adolescents aged 5 to 17 years.

Main outcome measures: Medically attended nonfatal injuries resulting from sports and recreation, and serious sports injuries, defined as injuries resulting in hospitalization, surgical treatment, missed school, or half a day or more in bed. Sports and recreation injuries were defined as those occurring in a place of recreation or sports, or receiving any of the following International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) E-codes: struck in sports, fall in sports, bicycle-related injury, riding an animal, water sports, overexertion, fall from playground equipment or other vehicles, primarily skates and skateboards.

Results: The estimated annual number of all injuries from sports and recreation in US children and adolescents is 4,379,000 (95% confidence interval = 3,147,000 to 5,611,000); from serious sport injuries, 1,363,000 (95% confidence interval = 632,000 to 2,095,000). Sports account for 36% of injuries from all causes. Cause and nature of injury are strongly related to age. Sports do not account for a disproportionate number of serious or repeated injuries compared with other causes of injuries.

Conclusion: Sports activities account for a large number and substantial proportion of all injuries to children and youth.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Recreation*
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States