Are there injury-prone children? A critical review of the literature

Can J Psychiatry. 1997 Aug;42(6):602-10. doi: 10.1177/070674379704200606.


Objectives: To review the evidence of general injury and pedestrian injury studies to determine if there are child behavioural, emotional, developmental, or physical characteristics that put children at higher risk for injury and, if there are such proneness risk factors, to determine their importance relative to other risk factors.

Methods: This paper critically assesses 11 general child injury studies and 6 child pedestrian injury studies that have examined variables of child proneness. Information on study design, source of data, magnitude and significance of the risk factors identified, and study limitations are presented in separate sections.

Results: A critical review of the literature suggests that aggression is a consistent risk factor for general injuries but not for pedestrian injuries, hyperactivity is inconsistently associated with all types of injuries, and both a general measure of behaviour problems and a measure of unsafe behaviour were found to be significantly related to pedestrian injuries. A look at the pedestrian injury literature suggests that child risk factors make a consistent but minor contribution to injuries in comparison with environmental and social risk factors.

Conclusions: We need to address the environmental and social risk factors by educating parents about the roles of home stressors, poor supervision, and high-risk exposure in child injuries and by adding our voice to the efforts to bring into effect engineering and legislative interventions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accident Proneness*
  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control
  • Accidents, Traffic / psychology
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data
  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Causality
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology*