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Trends in head injury mortality among 0-14 year olds in Scotland (1986-95)

Williamson, Morrison & Stone. Journal of Epidemiological Community Health 2002;56:285-288

Summary of paper

Head injury is the commonest cause of death in children aged 1-15 in England and Wales. In Scotland, children in the 0-14 years' age group account for approximately 50% of head injury A & E presentations and 20% of head injury deaths.

A total of 290 children resident in Scotland died as a result of head injury between 1986 and 1995. The largest single cause of head injury mortality was child pedestrians killed in road accidents. At 41% of all deaths, this cause substantially exceeded the combined total of deaths in car crashes or in cycling accidents (both causes together: 31%). Overall, road accidents were the cause of 72% of all head injury mortality in the age group. The number of deaths in cycling accidents is not stated explicitly, perhaps because there are too few of them.

Although head injury deaths as a result of child pedestrian accidents were so prominent, this cause had decreased significantly over time. The reasons proposed for the decline are (inter alia) more children being accompanied by adults and urban traffic calming schemes. Although changing travel patterns were likely to have been a factor, walking remained the main means for children 5-15 to travel to school, at 53% of the total, in 1994/96.

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