Background The health impacts of rapid changes in urban environments due to economic growth and/or retraction are not widely known. This study looks at the effects of urban change on the risk of child pedestrian injury in Edmonton, Alberta, a city that has experienced large economic and population growth following the expansion of the oil and gas industry in Canada.
Methods A longitudinal ecological study design was used to model the relationships between several built and social environmental variables and the risk of child pedestrian injury and severe child pedestrian injury between 1996 and 2007.
Results The incidence of child pedestrian injury was stable, but the incidence of severe injury increased over the study period. Areas with higher proportions of families on low incomes had higher injury incidence. While new residential development is associated with a lower incidence of injury in most areas, in poor areas, new residential development is associated with a higher incidence, even after controlling for urban planning features and traffic intensity.
Conclusion While suburban areas have a lower incidence of child pedestrian injury, residential development in poorer areas is associated with a higher child pedestrian injury risk. Child pedestrians may be less able to adapt to changes in the urban environment due to rapid growth and increasing income, and as a result, may be at greater risk of injury.
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Funding This project was funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, grant no 410-2008-0789.
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the McMaster research ethics board.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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