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Editor,—Unintentional injury is a leading cause of death in childhood. In developed countries, more children die of injuries each year than all childhood diseases combined.1 Limited data are available on unintentional injuries in India, but it is known that in some parts of India drowning is the leading cause of death in the 1–12 year age group.2
A survey was carried out with the objectives of assessing the awareness among pediatricians of the importance of unintentional injuries in children and the extent of involvement of pediatricians in injury prevention.
The survey was conducted in Jaipur, India, during the XXXVI National Conference of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics held in January 1999. Four hundred pre-tested, self administered questionnaires were randomly distributed to the participants of the conference. There was a response rate of 42.7% (171/400).
The respondents were a heterogeneous group. Of the 171 who responded, 116 resided in cities, 42 in towns, and eight in villages. Two did not answer this question and three others reported that they worked and lived in more than one place. A total of 58 respondents worked in teaching hospitals, 71 in private and charitable institutions, 11 in outpatient clinics, and 31 in more than one place. More than 90% (158) reported that they attend to children with injuries.
Ninety eight per cent of the respondents regularly provided health education; only 43% provided information specifically on childhood unintentional injury prevention. Information is not available on the extent of health education. Eleven per cent of the respondents had received some training in injury prevention. Forty three per cent felt that unintentional injury prevention would not work without legislation. The most common injuries encountered were poisoning (154), falls (138), burns and scalds (107), road traffic accidents (95), and near-drowning (72).
The above data show that unintentional injuries are widely encountered by pediatricians, but not all counsel regularly on injury prevention. Pediatricians are ideally suited to incorporate injury prevention programs into primary care.3 They, however, need knowledge on the epidemiology of childhood injuries.
The Indian Academy of Pediatrics has taken the first step in injury prevention by publishing a parent education booklet on injury prevention. As poisonings are now known to be the commonest injury presenting to pediatricians, the revised version of the booklet could include a section on prevention of accidental ingestion of poisons and corrosives.
Encouraging the collection of data on injuries and establishing a database on childhood injuries are some of the steps to be taken in initiating a national injury prevention initiative.