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Med J Aust. 1995 Mar 6;162(5):238-42.

Deaths from injury in childhood in Western Australia 1983-1992.

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Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Perth, WA.



To examine the factors associated with deaths from injury in childhood.


Western Australia.


Mortality rates and population data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for children aged 0-14 years between 1983 and 1992 were examined retrospectively. Deaths from injury were extracted and cause of death, district of residence, age, sex and race (Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal) identified. A similar study from 1953 to 1962 and extracts from the World health statistics annual (1991) were used for comparison.


In the 10-year period, 462 children died from injury. Almost two-thirds were boys. The annual mortality rate (per 100,000) was 12.2: 9.9 in metropolitan areas and 16.6 in the country. This had fallen from a rate of 29.6 in 1953-1962. Causes of death and mortality rates were: motor vehicle accidents, 5.1; drowning, 2.9; suffocation and inhalation, 0.6; burns, 0.4; poisonings, 0.3; and others, 2.0. The mortality rate for Aboriginal children was 40.6, nearly four times that of non-Aboriginal children. There was a reduction in deaths due to burns and poisoning and a considerable reduction in deaths of child motor vehicle passengers, except in the age group 0-1 year. Drowning remains a serious problem, particularly for the 1-4 year olds. Australian childhood mortality rates are higher than for some European countries, but lower than for New Zealand and the United States.


To further reduce deaths from injury in childhood, I recommend that car seat restraint legislation be extended to include all children. Deaths from drowning and all deaths from injury in Aboriginal children need further investigation to develop strategies for prevention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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