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Keywords:

  • burn;
  • fall;
  • infant;
  • poisoning;
  • pre-school child

Aim:  To identify the leading causes of injury in children aged 0–4 years by single year of age using injury submechanisms and present a brief epidemiologic profile of each cause.

Methods:  Hospitalisation data for New South Wales from 1999 to 2009 were used to identify the leading causes of injury for children aged 0–4 years by single year of age. For each leading cause, rates over time and by sex were calculated by single year of age. Associated age and sex risk ratios were estimated.

Results:  The leading causes of injury for children aged <1, 1 and 2 years were falls while being carried, burns by hot non-aqueous substances and poisoning by other and unspecified pharmaceutical substances, respectively. Falls involving playground equipment ranked first for children aged 3–4 years. Each leading injury cause exhibited an age pattern that remained stable over time and by sex. Age predicted falls while being carried and both age and sex predicted the remaining leading injury causes, with age and sex interacting to predict burns by hot non-aqueous substances.

Conclusions:  Epidemiologic analysis using single-year age intervals and injury submechanisms results in a clearer picture of injury risk for young children. The findings of this study provide detailed information regarding the leading causes of hospitalised injury in young children by age and sex. Child health-care providers can use this information to focus discussions of child development and injury risk with families of young children and suggest appropriate prevention measures in terms of a child's age and sex.