(HealthDay News) – Although the unintentional injury death rate has declined over the last decade, it is still the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the United States.

Julie Gilchrist, MD, from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed mortality data from 2000–2009 from the National Vital Statistics System to investigate the rate of death from unintentional injuries.

The researchers found that the annual death rate decreased 29%, from 15.5 per 100,000 population in 2000 to 11 per 100,000 in 2009, accounting for 9,143 deaths in 2009. For all age groups there was a decrease in the rate, with the exception of infants aged <1 year, where the rate increased from 23.1 to 27.7 deaths per 100,000, mainly due to an increase in suffocations. Among teenagers aged 15–19, there was an increase from 1.7 to 3.3 deaths per 100,000 from poisoning, partially due to an increase in prescription drug overdoses. Motor vehicle traffic-related deaths rates decreased by 41% but still remained the leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths.

“The frequency and cost of child and adolescent unintentional injury deaths, along with the effectiveness of existing public health interventions, make injury prevention a priority for improving the health of children and adolescents,” the authors write.

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