OBJECTIVES: To prospectively determine the incidence rate of injuries that required medical attention among children in day care and to identify possible hazards related to these injuries. SETTING: King County, Washington. METHODS: Prospective cohort study of children in a sample of licensed day care facilities. RESULTS: From 1 July 1992 to 30 June 1993, 53 medically attended injuries were reported by 133 day care sites; incidence rate 1.9 per 100,000 hours of day care attendance. The rate of injury in 91 small family day care homes was essentially the same as that in 42 larger day care centers; relative rate 1.0 (95% confidence interval 0.6 to 1.9). Injuries that required sutures accounted for 39% of the cases, while 17% required a cast, splint, or sling. No child was hospitalized. Sixty nine sites were inspected and all had potentially correctable physical hazards, with a median of 15 hazards per site (range 7 to 26). These potential hazards had little relationship to the risk of injury and a case-by-case review identified only two injuries that might have been prevented by a more energy absorbent playground surface. CONCLUSIONS: The incidence of medically attended injuries found in this study is consistent with other studies from the United States. Most injuries were minor and had little relation to physical hazards at day care locations.
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