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Preventing unintentional injury in under 15s

This quality standard from NICE covers preventing unintentional injury in children and young people under 15. The term 'unintentional injury' is used rather than 'accidents' to recognise that injuries are the result of events that can be prevented.

Why this quality standard is needed

The likelihood of unintentional injury is affected by a number of factors, including personal attributes (such as age and any medical conditions), behaviour (such as risk-taking) and the environment (such as poor-quality housing). The physical, psychological and behavioural characteristics of children and young people make them more vulnerable to injuries than adults.

The 2007 Audit Commission and Healthcare Commission report Better safe than sorry found that unintentional injury was a leading cause of death among under 15s. Although child mortality from all causes, including unintentional injury, has decreased over the past 20 years, the Overview of child deaths in the four UK countries (Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health 2013) found that injury is still the most frequent cause of death in children. Analysis of UK death registration data from 1980 to 2010 found that 31% of deaths in children aged 1–4 were from unintentional injuries.

A 2013 report from the Child Accident Prevention Trust said that children and young people from lower socioeconomic groups are more likely to be affected by unintentional injuries. It estimated that each year over 108,000 hospital admissions (estimated cost to the NHS £131 million per year) and around 2 million attendances to A&E (estimated cost £146 million per year) for children and young people under 15 are because of unintentional injury guideline on unintentional injuries highlighted that an 11% national reduction in unintentional injuries for children and young people (under 15) could save £26.4 million, which could offset the cost of implementing the guidance.

Approaches to preventing unintentional injuries include education (providing information and training), altering products or the home environment (child proofing) and enforcement (regulations and legislation).

The quality standard is expected to contribute to improvements in the following outcomes:

  • unintentional injuries in children and young people in the home
  • preventable child deaths related to unintentional injury in the home
  • hospital admissions
  • A&E attendances
  • health and wellbeing of children and young people.