Less than half of children suffering injuries from motor vehicle crashes were restrained with seatbelts, according to a new study.
And the lowest rate for seat belt use was among blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans, researchers said. The study was presented at the recent American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children, but there is little data concerning the racial/ethnic differences in injury severity, use of seat belts and outcomes.
In the study, researchers reviewed 2002-2006 data on car accidents that involved approximately 40,000 children under 16, taken from the National Trauma Database. Specifically, the study authors looked at the race/ethnicity of the children, whether or not they wore a seat belt, and the severity of the children’s injuries as determined by the need for emergency surgery, length of hospital stay, and morbidity/mortality.
The study’s results showed that 47.5 percent of patients were restrained in their car seat, with the lowest use of seat belts among Hispanic, black and Native American children.
Of those children injured in accidents, 12.6 percent required an emergency surgical procedure. The morbidity rate was approximately 6.7 percent, with researchers recording a mortality rate of 5.8 percent. While race/ethnicity did not affect mortality or length of hospital stay, the use of safety restraints was linked to a lower injury severity score.
In this study, a higher injury severity score was associated with a greater need for emergency surgery, morbidity (severe outcome), death and longer hospital stay.
Researchers found no differences in mortality among different ethnic groups, after adjusting for use of restraints.
“The major determinant of both morbidity and mortality is the severity of the injury as quantified by the initial injury severity score,” said Dr. Rebecca Stark, lead study author.
Because the use of restraints like seat belts decreases the injury severity score, researchers say the results show the need for further education and outreach to children and parents about the benefit of seat belt use.
To learn more on child traffic safety issues, see the library of articles by Daytona Beach child injury attorney.