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Epidemiology of bicycle injury, head injury, and helmet use among children in British Columbia: a five year descriptive study


Objectives and methods—Data on 1462 injured bicyclists aged 1–19, obtained over a period of five years from the British Columbia Children's Hospital as part of a national emergency room based program in Canada, were analyzed to describe the epidemiology of injuries, helmet use, and the occurrence of head injuries before the enactment of a new mandatory helmet law. The odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated for non-users compared with helmet users.

Results—Bicycle injuries comprised 4% of all injuries seen in the five year study period. The proportion of admissions was 12.7% among bicyclists, significantly higher than the 7.9% admissions of all 35 323 non-bicyclist children who were seen during the study period (OR = 1.96, CI = 1.44 to 1.99). Boys were injured more often than girls. The proportion of admissions for boys was 13.8% compared with 10.2% among girls (OR = 1.41, CI = 0.97 to 2.05). More than 70% of injured bicyclists reported no helmet use. The proportion of admissions of injured bicyclists who did not use helmets was always higher than the proportion of admissions of those who used helmets (OR = 2.23, CI = 1.39 to 3.62). Head and face injuries occurred more often among those who did not use helmets (OR = 1.55, CI= 1.18 to 2.04 ). However, there was no excess of minor head injuries among non-users (OR = 1.10, CI = 0.60 to 2.06). Of the 62 concussions, 57 occurred to non-helmet users (OR = 4.04, CI = 1.55 to 11.47). Most injuries occurred in the upper (46.4%) or lower extremities (32.4%). Dental injuries occurred slightly more often among helmet users compared with non-users but this excess was not statistically significant (OR = 1.29, CI = 0.76 to 2.20).

Conclusion—The data indicate the need to control injuries by using helmets. A decrease in the number of head injuries and their severity is expected when bicycle helmet use becomes law in British Columbia.

  • bicycle
  • Canada
  • epidemiology

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