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Mon Jun 2, 1:37 PM ET  Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The most common injuries children suffer vary by age almost month by month, with the most dangerous time coming at 15 to 17 months, according to a U.S. study published on Monday.

The University of California report, based on a review of more than 23,000 childhood injuries, 636 of them fatal, from 1996 to 1998, was designed to alert parents and doctors to the most common hazards at any given point.

During the first year of life, the study found that unspecified falls were the main source of injury before 3 months, battering by parents or caregivers at 3 to 5 months, falls from furniture at 6 to 8 months, swallowing foreign objects at 9 to 11 months and hot liquid or hot vapors at 12 to 17 months.

In general, the overall injury rate for all causes, everything from fires to ingestion of drugs, rapidly increased with age starting at 3 to 5 months and peaked at 15 to 17 months, said the study published in the June issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“This coincides with developmental achievements such as independent mobility, exploratory behavior and hand-to-mouth activity,” the report said. “The child is able to access hazards but has not yet developed cognitive hazard awareness and avoidance skills.”

The study, which tracked statistics up until age 4, found that the most common cause of injury after 3 came from moving vehicles hitting children on foot.

Across all ages medication poisoning was the single highest cause of injury, peaking at from 18 through 35 months.

“A remarkable finding was the high rate of battering injuring among infants,” the study said, “suggesting the need to address potential child maltreatment in the perinatal period.”

SOURCE: Pediatrics 2003;111:e683-e692.



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