Objective The relative significance of child injury as a cause of preventable death has increased as mortality from infectious diseases has declined. Unintentional child injuries are now a major cause of death and disability across the world with the greatest burden falling on those who are most disadvantaged. A review of long-term data on child injury mortality was conducted to explore trends and inequalities and consider how data were used to inform policy, practice and research.
Methods The authors systematically collated and quality appraised data from publications and documents reporting unintentional child injury mortality over periods of 20 years or more. A critical narrative synthesis explored trends by country income group, injury type, age, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic group.
Findings 31 studies meeting the inclusion criteria were identified of which 30 were included in the synthesis. Only six were from middle income countries and none were from low income countries. An overall trend in falling child injury mortality masked rising road traffic injury deaths, evidence of increasing vulnerability of adolescents and widening disparities within countries when analysed by ethnic group and socioeconomic status.
Conclusions Child injury mortality trend data from high and middle income countries has illustrated inequalities within generally falling trends. There is scope for greater use of existing trend data to inform policy and practice. Similar evidence from low income countries where the burden of injury is greatest is needed.
- public health
- systematic review
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.