Objective—To describe national trends in hospitalizations for motor vehicle related injuries among children and youth (0–24 years) of the United States Indian Health Service (IHS) from 1981–92.
Design—Descriptive epidemiologic study of the E coded national hospital discharge database of the IHS.
Results—From 1981 to 1992, the age standardized annual incidence of motor vehicle related injury hospitalizations (per 100 000 population) among American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) youth decreased more than 65% from 269 to 93. Substantial declines in hospitalization rates for all age and sex groups, all IHS areas, and most injury types were seen over this time. Injuries to vehicle occupants accounted for 78% of all motor vehicle related injury hospitalizations. The annual incidence of hospitalization (per 100 000 population) ranged from 291 in the Billings (Wyoming/Montana) and Aberdeen (the Dakotas) areas to 38 in the Portland area (Pacific Northwest).
Conclusions—National motor vehicle related injury hospitalization rates of AI/AN children and youth decreased significantly from 1981–92. This may be due to a reduction in the incidence of severe motor vehicle related trauma, changing patterns of medical practice, and changes in the use of services. Additional measures, such as passage and enforcement of tribal laws requiring the use of occupant restraints and stronger laws to prevent alcohol impaired driving, might further reduce the incidence of serious motor vehicle related injuries in this high risk population.
- North American Indians
- hospital records
- motor vehicles
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