Objective: To investigate patterns of non-fatal unintentional injuries among “left-behind children” in Macheng, China.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in September and October, 2006. Age-specific and sex-specific injury rates were calculated.
Results: 3019 students were interviewed in six schools. Of these, 1182 were identified as “left-behind”; 62.3% had both parents away from home, and 37.7% had one parent away from home. The annual injury rate per 1000 among left-behind children was more than twice that of children living with both parents: 252.9 (95% CI 233.0 to 273.0) and 119.8 (95% CI 105 to 134), respectively. Male left-behind children had the highest annual injury rate: 316.4 (95% CI 295 to 338) per 1000. The three leading external causes of injury were similar for both groups of children: falls (33.8%); mechanical injuries (16.2%); and animal bites (14.5%).The location where injuries occurred were home (32.0%), school (26.0%) and roadways (23.9%) for left-behind children. There were no significant associations between the identified guardian and injury mechanism.
Conclusions: A large proportion of students in the schools of rural Macheng are left-behind children. Left-behind children have a higher injury rate than those in the care of both parents. This may be important in the development of injury prevention strategies in rural communities in China.
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Competing interests: None.
Funding: Tongji Medical College provided financial support. Tongji Medical College Injury Control Center provided technical support for the survey. SM and LS were supported in part by the NIH Fogarty International Center (Grant No 1D43TW007257).
Ethics approval: Obtained.