Recurrent episodes of injury in children: an Australian cohort study

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Cameron, Cate M
Spinks, Anneliese B
Osborne, Jodie M
Davey, Tamzyn M
Sipe, Neil
McClure, Roderick J
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Objective: The aim of the present study was to compare sociodemographic characteristics of children with single versus recurrent episodes of injury and provide contemporary evidence for Australian injury prevention policy development.

Methods: Participants were identified from the Environments for Healthy Living: Griffith Birth Cohort Study 2006–11 (n = 2692). Demographic data were linked to the child’s hospital emergency and admissions data from birth to December 2013. Data were dichotomised in two ways: (1) injured or non-injured; and (2) single or recurrent episodes of injury. Multivariate logistic regression was used for analysis.

Results: The adjusted model identified two factors significantly associated with recurrent episodes of injury in children aged <3 years. Children born to mothers <25 years were almost fourfold more likely to have recurrent episodes of injury compared with children of mothers aged ≥35 years (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 3.68; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.44–9.39) and, as a child’s age at first injury increased, odds of experiencing recurrent episodes of injury decreased (aOR = 0.97; 95% CI 0.94–0.99). No differences were found in sociodemographic characteristics of children aged 3–7 years with single versus recurrent episodes of injury (P > 0.1).

Conclusion: National priorities should include targeted programs addressing the higher odds of recurrent episodes of injury experienced by children aged <3 years with younger mothers or those injured in the first 18 months of life.

What is known about the topic? Children who experience recurrent episodes of injury are at greater risk of serious or irrecoverable harm, particularly when repeat trauma occurs in the early years of life.

What does the paper add? The present study identifies key factors associated with recurrent episodes of injury in young Australian children. This is imperative to inform evidence-based national injury prevention policy development in line with the recent expiry of the National Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion Plan: 2004–2014.

What are the implications for practitioners? Injury prevention efforts need to target the increased injury risk experienced by families from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and, as a priority, children under 3 years of age with younger mothers and children who are injured in the first 18 months of life. These families require access to education programs, resources, equipment and support, particularly in the child’s early years. These programs could be provided as part of the routine paediatric and child health visits available to families after their child’s birth or incorporated into hospital and general practitioner injury treatment plans.

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Australian Health Review

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© The Author(s) 2017. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, providing that the work is properly cited.

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