OBJECTIVES: To describe the patterns and causes of childhood injury presenting to a South African township health centre in 1991. DESIGN: Retrospective review of clinic held case notes. SETTING: Typical South-African urban township within Greater Johannesburg. SUBJECTS: 695 subjects aged 0-19 years presenting as a direct result of injury. RESULTS: Overall rates of presentation for injury were 6297/100,000/year (95% confidence interval 5463 to 7131); 35% of injuries were caused by violence, 14% by traffic, and 51% by other unintentional causes (such as falls and sport injuries). Males had higher rates of presentation than females for violent (p < 0.001) and unintentional injuries (p < 0.01), but rates were similar for traffic injuries. The highest rates were for injuries caused by violence in 15-19 year-old males and were 9319/100,000/year. CONCLUSIONS: Rates are lower than in more developed countries. However, they appear to represent the more severe end of the spectrum of injury severity. The rates are similar for those below age 10 years and higher for those above age 10 years compared with severe injury rates in other studies. These data are likely to underestimate true rates. The risk of injuries caused by violence increase with age and these injuries are more serious than those due to other causes. Males are at higher risk for all types of injury except traffic injury.
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