September 4, 2007 > Injuries Are #1 Threat to Children's Health and Safety
Injuries Are #1 Threat to Children's Health and Safety
There's no denying it. From the time they are born, kids are exposed to a variety of hazards that can result in mild to serious injuries and even death. The Centers for Disease Control reports in 2005 (the last year for which statistics are available), 9.7 million children from birth to 18 experienced some type of non-fatal injury. In another 17,600 cases, the child died.
The fact is injuries, which are often preventable, are the number one killer of American children today. To make people more aware of this problem, the first week of September has been declared Childhood Injury Prevention Week.
"Although responsibility for injury prevention most often falls to parents, families and caregivers, a healthy future for America's children is something everyone cares about and can help encourage," says Kamini Narang, M.D., a pediatrician on the medical staff of Washington Hospital. "September 1st to 7th is a good time to focus on this issue; however, childhood safety should be a priority every day."
Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of injuries for children over 3. It is essential that, with every single car trip, babies and young children ride in a correctly installed car safety seat that is appropriate for their size and age.
Government standards for car safety seats change often. To see an up-do-date list of requirements and other recommendations about selecting and using safe car seats, visit the web site of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) at www.aap.org.
"Although guidelines state children over 6 or weighing more than 60 lbs. do not need a car seat and can use an adult seatbelt, I recommend that my patients continue using a booster seat in the car until they are 8," says Dr. Narang. "Many kids around the advised age and weight are still quite short, and the seatbelt doesn't fit well across their chest. It's better to use the booster seat until they are taller."
If you aren't sure your child's car safety seat is correctly installed, personnel at most local fire departments are trained and available to check the installation for you.
Safe at home
Although most of us like to think we are safest when we're in our homes, 2.6 million children are injured at home each year, say the organizers of National Childhood Injury Prevention Week.
It's a good idea to do a room-by-room check of your house to make sure you've done everything possible to prevent unintentional injuries to your child. AAP has a Home Safety Checklist you can order through its web site.
Guard your pool
Drowning is the second leading cause of injury for children and adolescents.
"In just a few moments, a child who is unattended and falls in the water can drown or sustain lifelong brain damage," reports Dr. Narang. "This happens more often than most of us realize."
If you have a swimming pool, keep children out by putting a 4-foot-high fence all the way around it and make sure the gate has a self-closing latch.
"I also recommend that parents take a basic CPR class," adds Dr. Narang. "If they get into a situation where a child needs help, parents should know what to do."
Toy safety isn't a game
Safety recalls of toys has been in the news recently. Right now, many parents are especially concerned about the toys they select for their children.
"Some toys have been found to have excessive levels of lead paint," observes Dr. Narang. "In the body, high levels of lead can enter the red blood cells and keep the cells from carrying oxygen, which is their normal function. Symptoms of lead poisoning include constipation, abdominal pain and anemia. In the long term, lead poisoning can cause developmental or learning disabilities."
To ensure that the toys you select for your child are safe, the AAP recommends that you: (1) Read warning labels to check for age appropriateness and whether adult supervision is advised; and (2) Be sure to show children how to use a toy properly.
Learn Infant/Child CPR
Washington Hospital offers an American Heart Association course that teaches adults how to relieve choking and how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on an infant or child. To learn more about this class and other Childbirth and Parenting classes offered through Washington Hospital, call (510) 791-3423 or visit www.whhs.com, click on "Services & Programs," select "Women's Health" and click on the "Birthing Center" link.
For an up-to-date list of toys and other products that have been recalled recently, visit the web site of the Consumer Product Safety Commission at www.cpsc.gov.
Washington Hospital's Children's Health and Safety Fair
Parents and kids are invited to learn about car seat safety, injury prevention, bicycle safety and a variety of health issues such as how to eat healthy, asthma education and when to see a doctor.
Free for all ages!
When: Sunday, September 30
Time: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Conrad E. Anderson, M.D., Auditorium, Rooms A, B & C
Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, Fremont
For more information, call (510) 494-7053 or (800) 963-7070