Accidents may be random or unintentional occurrences, but some groups of people are more at risk of falling victim to them than others.
Data collected and analyzed by Statistics Canada shows that aboriginal children are twice as likely as other children to suffer accidental injuries requiring hospitalization.
Figures collected over 2001-2006 from Canadian provinces and territories (excluding Quebec) were used in the report. Drug reactions and medical errors were not included in the data collection. Injuries leading to death are also excluded.
Over these five years, 117, 605 children aged 19 and younger were hospitalized for accidental injuries. While most of the injuries were among boys, the differential rates of injury between aboriginal and non-aboriginal girls were greater than the gaps between the boys.
Using postal code information, researchers compared communities where the First Nations, Metis or Inuit population was high (above one third) compared to communities where there was a low concentration of aboriginals, the Canadian Press reports.
In areas where aboriginal groups make up a low percentage of the population, children and youth were hospitalized for injuries at a rate of 36.1 per 10,000 person-years. In high-concentration areas, the rates were between 83 and 88.2 per 10,000 person-years.
Accidental falls and transportation injuries were the main reasons behind the hospitalizations. When it comes to injuries arising from fires, environmental causes, drowning or suffocation, aboriginal children suffered at a higher rate.
Income also plays a factor in injury-related deaths, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
“Accidental childhood injury rates vary with a child’s age, gender, race and socioeconomic status. Poverty is the primary predictor of injury risk,” writes Safe Kids in a factsheet.
The group’s factsheet also warns that children from low-income households are twice as likely to die in auto accidents, four times more likely to drown and five times more likely to die in a fire. The higher susceptibility to these perils is similarly echoed in the government’s findings on aboriginal child injury.
Child poverty can increase exposure to hazardous environments, substandard housing situations and overcrowding, inability access safe recreational facilities, inadequate supervision and limited access to healthcare, according to the organization.
Statistics Canada’s report shows that 27% of the population in high-percentage Inuit identity “dissemination areas” live in crowded dwellings.
“Information about individual and family characteristics such as income, education, and individual behaviours that may influence injury risk was not available on hospital records,” notes this report, authored by Lisa N. Oliver and Dafna E. Kohen.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund’s World Report on Child Injury Prevention, millions of children suffer non-fatal injuries, while 2,000 youth die daily from a preventable injury.
In fact, the report, citing figures from New Zealand, Australia and the United States, makes mention that indigenous people are one group that stands out as experiencing higher injury rates.
According to a summary of the recommendations for injury prevention made in the 2008 report, countries should:
- Integrate child injury into a comprehensive approach to child health and development;
- Develop and implement a child injury prevention policy and a plan of action;
- Implement specific actions to prevent and control child injuries;
- Strengthen health systems to address child injuries;
- Enhance the quality and quantity of data for child injury prevention
- Define priorities for research, and support research on the causes, consequences, costs and prevention of child injuries;
- Raise awareness of and target investments towards child injury prevention.