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Non-fatal injury rates among the “left-behind children” of rural China


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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