June 29, 2010 – Children in New York City die from injuries at half the national rate, according to a new report from the Health Department. From 2001 to 2008, the city recorded 4.2 injury deaths each year for every 100,000 children between 1 and 12 years old. The national rate was 8.9 deaths per 100,000 children. The city’s advantage stems mainly from a lower risk of transportation-related fatalities. Children die in traffic accidents in New York City at less than one third the national rate, due to New Yorkers’ high reliance on public transportation. Yet injuries remain the city’s leading cause of childhood death, accounting for 29% of the total. Despite the low citywide average, some large differences persist among different demographic groups.
The new report, the fourth in a series tracking child fatalities in New York City, shows that fatal injuries are more common in younger children than older children, more likely to affect boys than girls, and most prevalent in impoverished neighborhoods. From 2001 to 2008, injuries caused:
- 6.8 deaths per 100,000 children between one and three years old, versus 3.5 deaths per 100,000 10- to 12-year-olds.
- 4.6 deaths per 100,000 boys, versus 3.6 per 100,000 girls.
- 6.6 deaths per 100,000 non-Hispanic black children, versus 3.4 per 100,000 non-Hispanic white children and 3.3 per 100,000 Hispanic children.
- 5.2 deaths per 100,000 children in the lowest-income neighborhoods, versus 2.3 per 100,000 in the highest-income neighborhoods.
The 2010 Report from the Child Fatality Review Team, available at nyc.gov/health, finds that the rate of child injury deaths has been stable for the past eight years. Though the City has many policies in place to reduce child injuries, the report offerspractical steps that could help reduce them further.
“New York City remains a remarkably safe place to grow up,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “Still, every child death is a tragedy and many deaths caused by injury are preventable. This report stresses the critical need for collective and individual action to make our city even safer for kids.”
More than two-thirds (69%) of the 439 injury-related child deaths between 2001 and 2008 were unintentional, while 25% involved intent to cause harm. Among the unintentional injuries, 41% were transportation-related, 28% were caused by fires and burns, 10% involved suffocation, and 9% resulted from falls. Nearly all intentional deaths (93%) were homicides involving blunt impact injuries, gunshot wounds or fire.
Fatal child injuries varied widely by neighborhood during the period the report covers. The child fatality rate was more than twice as high in the city’s poorest neighborhoods (5.2 per 100,000) when compared with the richest ones (2.3 per 100,000). The reasons for these disparities may include both individual factors (e.g., the knowledge, behaviors, and resources of caregivers) and neighborhood factors (e.g., access to secure housing and traffic characteristics).
The Health Department and other City agencies are implementing numerous policies and programs to decrease child injury deaths. The report offers strategies and resources to help families and communities prevent childhood injuries. Here are some of the Health Department’s programs and initiatives:
- The New York City Poison Control Center operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with registered pharmacists and nurses providing free information on exposure to poisonous or unknown substances.
- The Window Fall Prevention Program investigates referrals and complaints concerning window guards. The window guard law requires building owners to install approved window guards in the home of any family with a child age 10 years or younger.
- Through the Newborn Home Visiting Program, health care professionals work in low-income areas to provide new mothers with information on child health and safety. Health workers screen for violence in the home and environmental hazards and arrange for free safety-approved cribs.
- The Nurse Family Partnership sends nurses into homes of low-income, first-time mothers every one or two weeks during pregnancy and until the baby is two years old to help address health and safety issues.
Many other City agencies have also adopted policies and launched initiatives to prevent injuries to children. Some current initiatives:
- The Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School initiative works to improve traffic safety near elementary and middle schools in neighborhoods with the highest traffic accident rates. In addition, the Office of School Safety Engineering ensures that all school intersections have school crossing signs, clearly marked cross walks and school crossing messages on streets.
- The Department of Transportation’s Car Seat Education Program sponsors six fitting stations where technicians can help parents install child car seats properly. The program trains nurses, law enforcement officers, health educators and others in transportation safety.
- The Fire Department of New York’s Fire Zone, a state-of-the-art learning center in Rockefeller Center, provides fire-safety training for about 25,000 school-age children. FDNY also conducts about 6,000 public presentations on fire safety each year, educating just under 500,000 people, and providing over 100,000 free batteries for smoke alarms.
- The Administration for Children’s Services sponsors a public awareness campaign called Take Good Care of Your Baby. Conducted in partnership with the Health Department, it informs parents about how to protect babies and young children from injury and death.
- The Department of Education and the Administration for Children’s Services train school officials and administrators on child protective issues.
For more information on these and other City initiatives, call 311 or visit nyc.gov/health.
About the New York City Child Fatality Review Team
The 2010 report was written by a multi-institutional committee created by local law in 2006 to collect data and annually review external causes of death among New York City children between 1 and 12 years old. The group’s work is intended to inform policies, laws, regulations and prevention activities.
Past reports from the Child Fatality Review Team have focused on leading causes of fatal childhood injury.
To read the report, 2010 Report from the Child Fatality Review Team, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/episrv/episrv-childfatality-book10.pdf.