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Risk of fatal unintentional injuries in children by migration status: a nationwide cohort study with 46 years’ follow-up


Background Injuries are responsible for much child and adolescent mortality in the world.

Objective To study the effect of parental birth country on the risk of fatal unintentional injuries.

Methods We established a cohort by linkages between Swedish national registers through personal identification number. The main variable was country of birth of parents. Children with both parents born in Sweden were the reference group. The cohort was followed up from the starting date of the study (1 January 1961) or date of birth, whichever occurred last, until the exit date, which was death due to unintentional injury, first emigration or end of the follow-up (31 December 2007), whichever came first. We calculated HRs with 95% CIs adjusted for age at exit, parental education and calendar period of birth by Cox proportional hazards models.

Results We found a significantly higher risk of fatal unintentional injuries among children with a foreign background than among native children. We found a higher risk of fatal transportation-related injuries and drowning among boys with a foreign background and a higher risk of fatal burns/fire and falls among girls with a foreign background than among same sex native children. We also found a higher risk of fatal unintentional injuries among children with a foreign background at older ages than among native children at the same ages.

Conclusions Injury prevention work against unintentional injuries among children of foreign origin is more complex than that among native children. We recommend designing specific studies to find out the factors responsible and planning preventive interventions aiming at this particular group of children with a foreign background.

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