Objectives: To examine all accident and emergency (A&E) department attendances by children under the age of 1 year over a period of 12 months. Also to try to identify the prevalence and severity of accident types in small children and to suggest ways to reduce such accidents.
Methods: The A&E department of the Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital (RACH) serves a population of over half a million. All children under 1 year of age attending this department in the year 2000 had their case notes reviewed by the author and the cause, type, and severity of the illness or injury noted.
Results: During the 12 month audit period 1416 new cases under the age of 1 year presented to RACH, 790 of which presented directly to A&E. Six hundred and eighteen (78%) were self referred and 116 children attended A&E on more than one occasion during the year. Four hundred and thirty four (55%) of the A&E attendances were classed as "accidents", the remainder were mainly for medical conditions such as respiratory distress. Two hundred and sixty four (61%) were caused by falls and 38% were admitted for inpatient management. Two hundred and twenty nine (29%) required radiographs, which revealed 30 fractures. Thirty seven children sustained scalds/burns and there were 33 accidental ingestions. Six cases were judged to be non-accidental.
Conclusions: There is a surprisingly high rate of "accidental" injury in this age group, bringing into question the effectiveness of current accident prevention strategies. Perhaps specific prevention advice should be targeted at parents and carers of young children. There should always be a high index of suspicion for non-accidental injury.
- BABY WALKERS