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Injury risk from popular childhood physical activities: results from an Australian primary school cohort
  1. A B Spinks1,
  2. A K Macpherson2,
  3. C Bain1,
  4. R J McClure3
  1. 1School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2School of Kinesiology and Health Science, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3School of Medicine, Griffith University, Logan, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 MsA B Spinks
 School of Medicine, Griffith University, University Drive, Meadowbrook QLD, Australia 4031; a.spinks{at}


Background: Children engage in various physical activities that pose different injury risks. However, the lack of adequate data on exposure has meant that these risks have not been quantified or compared in young children aged 5–12 years.

Objectives: To measure exposure to popular activities among Australian primary school children and to quantify the associated injury risks.

Method: The Childhood Injury Prevention Study prospectively followed up a cohort of randomly selected Australian primary and preschool children aged 5–12 years. Time (min) engaged in various physical activities was measured using a parent-completed 7-day diary. All injuries over 12 months were reported to the study. All data on exposure and injuries were coded using the International classification of external causes of injury. Injury rates per 1000 h of exposure were calculated for the most popular activities.

Results: Complete diaries and data on injuries were available for 744 children. Over 12 months, 314 injuries relating to physical activity outside of school were reported. The highest injury risks per exposure time occurred for tackle-style football (2.18/1000 h), wheeled activities (1.72/1000 h) and tennis (1.19/1000 h). Overall, boys were injured more often than girls; however, the differences were non-significant or reversed for some activities including soccer, trampolining and team ball sports.

Conclusion: Although the overall injury rate was low in this prospective cohort, the safety of some popular childhood activities can be improved so that the benefits may be enjoyed with fewer negative consequences.

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  • Funding: This study was funded by a grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

  • Competing interests: None declared.