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Acad Emerg Med. 2004 Oct;11(10):1042-8.

External causes of pediatric injury-related emergency department visits in the United States.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO 80045, USA.



To characterize the types and external causes of pediatric injury-related visits (IRVs) to emergency departments (EDs), in particular, sports-related injuries. To compare the characteristics of children with IRVs with those with non-IRVs, specifically, differences in IRV rates by race and ethnicity and by health insurance.


This was a stratified random-sample survey of EDs in the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS), including all IRVs for patients less than 19 years of age in 1998 (n = 2,656). National estimates of pediatric IRVs were obtained using the assigned patient visit weights in the NHAMCS databases and SUDAAN analyses. Measures of association between predictor variables (patient and health insurance characteristics) and whether a child had an IRV were calculated using multivariate logistic regression analyses to determine adjusted odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals.


Pediatric IRVs accounted for more than 11 million ED visits annually. The most common diagnoses for IRVs were open wounds, contusions, sprains and strains, and fractures and dislocations. The leading external causes of IRVs were sports-related injuries, accidental falls, being struck by objects, and motor vehicle collisions. Children with IRVs differed from those who presented for non-IRVs in many characteristics: they were more likely to be male, to be older, to be of white race, and to have private insurance, and less likely to be of Asian or Hispanic ethnicity.


Sports and recreation are the leading external causes of pediatric IRVs to EDs in the United States. There are different patterns of IRVs according to gender, age, race, ethnicity, and insurance. Identification of specific patterns of injury is necessary for the design of effective prevention strategies.

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