Aboriginal youth face higher risk of injuries
A new report says aboriginal children suffer from unintentional injuries serious enough to require hospitalization at twice the rate of other kids in Canada.
The Statistics Canada report by Lisa Oliver and Dafna Kohen is based on five years of national data gathered from 2001-02 to 2005-06. Figures for Quebec were not included in the analysis.
During that time, Canadian acute-care hospitals discharged 117,605 children and youths aged 19 and younger who were treated for unintentional injuries.
The report says falls and land transportation injuries, such as car accidents, were the main reasons children were sent to hospital.
But gaps in the rates of injuries because of fires, natural environmental causes and drowning or suffocation were greater when rates for aboriginal children were compared to those for other kids.
Hospitalizations of boys were more common than of girls. But the differences in the rates of injuries for aboriginal girls compared to other girls were greater than the differences between aboriginal and non-aboriginal boys.
Unintentional injuries are what most people would describe as accidents -- events in which there is no intent to harm.
Drug reactions and injuries caused by medical errors were not included in the analysis, nor were injuries that caused death.
The Statistics Canada analysts used postal code information, which meant they were not directly comparing aboriginal children to non-aboriginal children.
Rather, they compared injury rates among children who lived in areas with a high concentration (more than 33%) of people of First Nations, Metis or Inuit origin to children who lived in areas where there was a low concentration of people from any of those groups.
They found children and youths who lived in areas where there was a low percentage of aboriginals were hospitalized for injuries at a rate of 37.1 per 10,000 person-years.
In areas where many First Nations, Metis or Inuit people lived, the rates were 85.9, 88.2 and 83 respectively.
The report notes unintentional injury is the leading cause of death and disability for Canadian children, and can have life-long health consequences for those who survive them.
"Not only are injuries associated with increased health care costs, hospitalizations and physician care, but injuries sustained in childhood also have consequences that can last throughout the life-course," the authors say.
Statistics Canada says although the findings are in line with previous research, the report provides a more comprehensive analysis by providing results for each Aboriginal group and for a range of injury causes.
16 August 012