News, Announcements and Expert Commentary from Inova

Accidents: Leading Cause of Child Mortality

Prevention is key, especially during Summer Months

Fairfax, Va – (June 18, 2012) – It all happened so fast—a phrase often uttered by parents in Inova emergency rooms and those across the country astounded by how quickly their child suffered severe, or even fatal, accidental injuries. Accidental injury is the leading cause of death among children and adolescents, with nearly a third of childhood deaths attributed to the catch-all cause which includes drowning, motor vehicle accidents, burns and falls, among others.

“In addition to warmer weather and longer days, summer means a dramatic increase in pediatric visits to our emergency department,” said Dr. Katherine Fullerton, Medical Director of the Inova Fairfax Hospital Pediatric Emergency Room. “Not all accidents can be avoided, but many can. Focus on things that can be done to prevent injury—proper childproofing of your home and outdoor areas is essential.”

While some accidents are unavoidable, many can be prevented. This summer, follow some of these simple steps to prevent accidental injury:

  • If you have a swimming pool at home, it should be surrounded with four-sided fencing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “drowning has been the second leading cause of death to children under age 5, after motor vehicle incidents.”
  • Be sure that children—and adults—are always wearing helmets when participating in wheeled sports such as bicycling and skateboarding. More than 2.6 million children are treated in U.S. emergency department each year for sports and recreation-related injuries.
  • Secure children in appropriate car seats and seat belts when riding in the car. Rear facing up to age three, followed by forward facing until they reach the height and weight limit specified by the manufacturer. Children under 12 should ride in the back seat.  Never leave a child unattended in a car. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among children.  
  • Be sure that your home is properly childproofed. Outlets should be covered; medications, cleaning supplies and other potential poisons stored out of reach. Every day, more than 300 children in the United States are treated in an emergency department, and two children die, as a result of accidental poisoning.

Not all accidents are preventable. Be prepared for when they do happen by teaching children how to dial 911 in an emergency and taking simple steps like learning infant and child CPR.

Inova is not only dedicated to providing high-quality care to children in our emergency rooms and pediatric programs, they are also committed to helping to prevent injuries as much as possible. To learn more about infant and child CPR, first aid and other courses offered through Inova HealthSource go to

To schedule an interview with Dr. Katherine Fullerton please call Joanna Fazio at 703-776-4057.    

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