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Classification of trauma in children

Tom Brazelton, MD, MPH, FAAP
Ankush Gosain, MD, PhD, FACS, FAAP
Section Editor
Richard G Bachur, MD
Deputy Editor
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH


This topic will discuss the classification of pediatric trauma. The initial management of trauma in stable and unstable children is discussed separately. (See "Trauma management: Approach to the unstable child" and "Approach to the initially stable child with blunt or penetrating injury".)


Injuries are the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in the United States (table 1) and most high-income countries [1]. Deaths from unintentional injuries account for more years of potential life lost before age 65 years than cancer, heart disease, or any other cause of death [2]. For every injury death, an estimated 25 hospitalizations and 925 emergency department visits occur. Most of these injuries are caused by falls, motor vehicle collisions (MVCs), bicycle collisions, and burns; many are preventable. (See "Pediatric injury prevention: Epidemiology, history, and application" and "Prevention of falls in children".)

Due in large part to national injury prevention efforts, the overall unintentional injury death rate in United States children, aged 0 to 19 years, declined by 29 percent from 2000 to 2009. These injury prevention efforts include seat belt use, child safety seat and booster seat use, licensing requirements, vehicle design, and reductions in alcohol-impaired driving. (See "Pediatric injury prevention: Epidemiology, history, and application", section on 'Epidemiology'.)

However, even with these efforts, MVCs remain the leading cause of unintentional injury death among 15 to 19 year olds. Furthermore, the unintentional injury death rate for infants younger than one year of age has risen from 2000 to 2009. It is clear that ongoing injury prevention efforts, such as the National Action Plan for Child Injury Prevention [3], are needed to prevent these needless injuries and deaths. (See "Pediatric injury prevention: Epidemiology, history, and application", section on 'Injury prevention resources'.)


Types of prevention include:

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 01, 2017.
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