—Trauma is the leading cause of death in children older than 1 year in the United States. We performed an analysis of the causes of death due to trauma in children in a large urban community to suggest means of prevention in such communities. We also examined data obtained before and after the designation of pediatric trauma centers to determine whether this has made a difference.
—Records of the Medical Examiner, Cook County, Illinois, from 1983 through 1988.
—The admitting log was reviewed for all children before their 16th birthday. During the 6-year study period, 3121 autopsies were performed on children, 36.1% of whom died due to traumatic injuries. We reviewed the records of those children who died secondary to these injuries.
—Record review on pediatric trauma deaths as to cause of death, time of death, age, sex, and any other pertinent information.
—Of all trauma deaths, fire was the most common cause of death, followed by motor vehicle—related injuries, homicides, drownings, and falls. These findings differ from national statistics. Improvement in outcome was seen following the designation of general trauma centers, with further improvement seen following the designation of specific pediatric trauma centers.
—Identification of causes of pediatric trauma death enables us to suggest methods of prevention. The centralized care of seriously injured children through the establishment of trauma centers and, specifically, pediatric trauma centers might help to prevent these deaths. Further study of pediatric trauma deaths, including hospital and ambulance records, is needed to improve medical care.(AJDC. 1993;147:102-107)