16% of three-year-olds need hospital care for injuries

Approximately one in six three-year-olds in the Republic of Ireland has had an accident or injury that required hospital treatment or admission, according to a report published today.

Children in homes with two parents where the primary carer did not have a longstanding health condition were least at risk of injury.

Those most at risk were children in one-parent households where the carer had a longstanding condition, where there were other children in the home, and where the carer was not educated to degree level.

Among this group, almost half (46%) had had an injury, compared to 16% of all three-year-olds surveyed (11,200).

Jude Cosgrove, senior statistical analyst with the Institute of Public Health (IPH), who compiled the report, said they were “not saying” that those in one-parent households were unable to supervise their children.

However, their findings did suggest that injury prevention strategies among young children may need to be targeted at children in one-parent households, particularly where the main carer has a long-term health condition, “since the potential for limited supervision of young children in these households is increased”.

“We need to promote the development of effective intervention strategies that look at family structures and the home environment if social and economic inequalities in childhood injuries are to be addressed,” said Dr Cosgrove.

She said their findings showed children with a primary carer with a longstanding health condition are “disproportionately affected”.

The results also show injury prevalence was higher for boys than girls in one-parent households with other children present, where the carer had a longstanding health condition, and was not educated to degree level. In these cases, injury prevalence was 45.6% for boys and 31.7% for girls.

Dr Cosgrove said their findings showed injuries that required hospital treatment or admission were “relatively common among 3-year-olds in the Republic of Ireland”.

The report points out that there is, at present, “no national, overarching policy on child injury prevention”.

Earlier this year, Northern Ireland launched a home accident prevention strategy with particular focus on the under 5s and over 65s. The strategy aims to reduce unintentional injuries and deaths caused by home accidents.

Here, the HSE has a child safety awareness programme (CSAP) which aims to reduce and prevent child injuries at home and is delivered by public health nurses during child health surveillance visits.

The findings are drawn from the IPH’s Prevalence of injuries among three-year-old children in the Republic of Ireland in 2011 report.


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