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Car crashes, gun injuries leading causes of death for children: Report

December 20, 2018

Car crashes and gunshot wounds are the leading causes of death for America’s children, with deaths from preventable and accidental injuries numbering more than six times greater than those from disease, according to a report published Thursday.

About 60 percent of the more than 20,000 deaths of 1- to 19-year-olds were caused by motor vehicle accidents or firearm wounds including murder, suicide and unintentional injury, among others.

Drug overdoses rose to the sixth-leading cause of death among young people, largely due to the opioid epidemic, researchers reported.

The latest numbers were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WONDER database, which collects cause-of-death data from death certificates from almost 60 sites around the country.

The researchers said that many accidental deaths are preventable, noting that deaths from car crashes declined since 2007 with improved safety standards and policies.

However, car accidents rose between 2013 and 2016, likely due to an increase of drivers distracted by cellphones, the researchers reported.

“Progress toward further reducing deaths among children and adolescents will require a shift in public perceptions so that injury deaths are viewed not as ‘accidents,’” the researchers wrote, “but rather as social ecologic phenomena that are amenable to prevention.”

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