Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between socioeconomic disadvantage and the incidence of severe childhood injury.
Methods: Small-area analysis was used to examine socioeconomic risk factors for pediatric injury resulting in hospitalization or death in Northern Manhattan, New York, NY, during a 9-year period (1983 through 1991).
Results: The average annual incidence of all causes of severe pediatric injury was 72.5 per 10,000 children; the case-fatality rate was 2.6%. Census tract proportions of low-income households, single-parent families, non-high school graduates, and unemployment were significant predictors of risk for both unintentional and intentional injury. Among the socioeconomic factors considered, low income was the single most important predictor of all injuries; other socioeconomic variables were not independent contributors once income was included in the model. Compared with children living in areas with few low-income households, children in areas with predominantly low-income households were more than twice as likely to receive injuries from all causes and four and one half times as likely to receive assault injuries. The effect of neighborhood income disparities on injury risk persisted after race was controlled.
Conclusions: These results illuminate the impact of socioeconomic disparities on child health and point to the need for injury prevention efforts targeting low-income neighborhoods.