Falls hospitalise 25,000 children a year

Australian hospitals treated more than 25,000 children with fall-related injuries during 1997-98-making falls the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisation among children aged 14 years and under, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Child Injuries Due to Falls shows while few children die from fall-related injuries (about 11 children per year), falls nevertheless accounted for 38% of child hospital admissions due to injury and poisoning.

More than two-thirds of children hospitalised after falls were boys.

Most children admitted to hospital after falls are discharged either on the same day or after one day, but nearly 11% are hospitalised for three days or more.

Report co-author Malinda Steenkamp, from the AIHW's National Injury Surveillance Unit at Flinders University, said that a notable number of children had serious outcomes as a result of falls.

'Also, there are clusters of fall-related injury that may be amenable to intervention-for example, a large proportion of accidental falls in the 5-9 year age group is associated with playground equipment,' Ms Steenkamp said.

Nearly two-thirds of fall-related injuries are to the arms and shoulders and one quarter are head and face injuries.'

Other findings of the report include:

  • 27% of fall-related injuries in children leading to hospitalisation occur in the home.
  • 15% of fall-related injuries in children leading to hospitalisation occur in sport-related or recreational environments.
  • Children aged 5-9 years accounted for about 40% of child hospitalisations due to accidental falls.
  • Of all children aged 5-9 years hospitalised for fall injuries, 53% of girls and 46% of boys fell from play equipment.
  • Falls from or out of buildings or other structures accounted for 27% of all fall-related deaths in children.

20 November 2001


Further information: Malinda Steenkamp, AIHW National Injury Surveillance Unit, tel. 08 8374 0970
Media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1032