Research

Non-fatal injuries among boys and girls presenting to Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

M Prinsloo, K Hunter, R Matzopoulos, E Millett, S van As, E Jordaan, M M Peden

Abstract


Background. In South Africa (SA), road traffic injuries, homicides and burns are the leading causes of injury-related deaths among children. Injury-related deaths are well documented for SA, but this is not the case for non-fatal injuries.

Objectives. To describe the non-fatal injuries sustained among children aged 0 - 13 years, to identify any significant sex differences by age group, cause of injury, admission status and injury severity.

Methods. The trauma unit database from 1997 to 2016 at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Cape Town, was utilised for this analysis. The prevalence of injuries and the boy/girl ratios with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were reported.

Results. Analysis indicated significant differences by sex for individual injury causes (transport, assault, burns, falls and other injuries), age group, injury severity and admission status. Moderately severe injuries were largely caused by burns, while severe injuries were mostly transport related. Boys had significantly higher proportions of all injury causes. The boy/girl ratio was lowest for assault (1:18), where significantly more girls aged 1 - 3 and 4 - 6 years were injured. Rape/sexual assault was 5.5 times higher for girls, with a significantly higher proportion of moderate-severity injuries (87%; 95% CI 84.7 - 89.4).

Conclusion. The study findings call for a more targeted prevention response for boy and girl children. Interventions should be targeted at the prevention of burns, traffic collisions and interpersonal violence, in particular sexual assaults against girls.


Authors' affiliations

M Prinsloo, Burden of Disease Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa; Institute for Lifecourse Development, Faculty of Education, Health and Human Sciences, University of Greenwich, London, UK

K Hunter, The George Institute for Global Health Australia, Sydney, Australia; University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

R Matzopoulos, Burden of Disease Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa; School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

E Millett, The George Institute for Global Health UK, Imperial College London, UK

S van As, ChildSafe, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa; Division of Paediatric Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of Limpopo, South Africa

E Jordaan, Biostatistics Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa

M M Peden, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; The George Institute for Global Health UK, Imperial College London, UK

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Keywords

Injured children; Cause of injury; Severity; Assault; Transport

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2022;112(7):465-471.

Article History

Date submitted: 2022-07-01
Date published: 2022-07-01

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