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PLoS One. 2019 Aug 9;14(8):e0220798. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220798. eCollection 2019.

Characteristics and trends of traumatic injuries in children visiting emergency departments in South Korea: A retrospective serial cross-sectional study using both nationwide-sample and single-institutional data.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Asan Medical Center Children's Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


We investigated the incidences and characteristics of pediatric traumatic injuries requiring emergency department visits, through a complementary approach using both nationwide-sample and single-institutional data. Data for children (aged <15 years) identified with traumatic injuries during a 10-year period from the Korean National Health Insurance Sharing Service (n = 35,064 among 10,114,909 randomly sampled cases from the claim records of the National Health Insurance) and the authors' institute (n = 39,228) were retrospectively reviewed. The incidences and characteristics of the injuries were investigated using both datasets; additionally, detailed information regarding the injury environments was investigated using the single-institutional data. The findings were similar across both datasets. The incidence of injuries increased during the study period; the head was most commonly injured, whereas the trunk or proximal extremities were rarely injured; low-energy head injuries accounted for >50% of the cases in children aged <5 years, although the incidences of lower-extremity injuries and fractures increased in older children. Single-institutional data demonstrated that the proportion of indoor playground and trampoline-related injuries increased rapidly during the study period, and outdoor injuries and seasonal variation (with peak incidences in May and June) were more prominent in older children. Based on similarities between both datasets, the detailed results regarding pediatric traumatic injuries obtained from the single-institutional data could be generalized nationally with adequate external validity. To prevent traumatic injuries, it may be more effective to wear protective equipment covering the head and distal extremities rather than the trunk or proximal extremities; simple clothing, such as caps, could prevent many injuries in preschoolers. Among older children, safety guidelines for outdoor sports/leisure activities are needed. The increase in pediatric traumatic injuries may be partially explained by the increased availability of indoor playgrounds and installation of trampolines. Stricter adherence to the preventive guidelines is needed.

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