Differences by age
Unintentional fatal injuries are most common among infants. The 2016 rates per 100,000 population range from a high of 31 among children younger than 1 year, to a low of 4 among those ages 5 to 9. The second-highest rate was among adolescents ages 15 to 19 (20 deaths per 100,000). Fatal injuries have been trending downward for all age groups, except infants; after rising from 1998 to 2008, the rate for infants has been generally constant (Appendix 1).
The most common causes of fatal injuries differ among age groups. For instance, although suffocation is the most common type of fatal injury among infants (84 percent in 2016), it accounts for only 1 percent of unintentional fatalities among adolescents ages 15 to 19. While only 7 percent of fatal injuries among infants are due to motor vehicle crashes, they account for 63 percent among adolescents. While drowning is the most common cause of fatal injury among children ages 1 to 4 (34 percent), drowning accounts for 6 percent of adolescent fatal injuries. Other notable types of injury include poisoning (19 percent of fatal injuries among adolescents), and fire and burn injuries among children ages 1 to 4 and 5 to 9 (9 and 10 percent of fatal injuries, respectively) (Appendix 3).
Rates for nonfatal injuries are highest among children ages 1 to 4 (10,634 injuries per 100,000 population, in 2016), followed by adolescents ages 15 to 19 (10,447 per 100,000), children ages 10 to 14 (8,599 per 100,000), children ages 5 to 9 (7,474 per 100,000), and infants less than a year old (5,402 per 100,000) (Appendix 2).
There are also marked age-related differences in the causes of nonfatal injuries. Falls are the most common cause from birth to age 9, and second-most common among 15- to 19-year-olds. Among 10- to 14-year-olds, the rate of nonfatal injuries due to falls was similar to the rate of nonfatal injuries from being “struck by or against an object or person,” although the actual numbers vary by year. However, the proportion of injuries associated with falls decreases with age. Among infants, 57 percent of serious nonfatal injuries were from falls in 2016, compared with 17 percent of nonfatal injuries among adolescents ages 15 to 19. Nonfatal injuries that result from being “struck by or against an object or person” comprised 27 percent of injuries among 10- to 14-year-olds (the single largest category), and 13 percent among infants under age 1 (Appendix 4).