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Major research project investigates keeping children safe at home

The launch of the ‘World report on child injury prevention’ will take place on 10 December 2008 in Hanoi, Socialist Republic of Vietnam. On the same day the ‘European report on child injury prevention’ will also be launched.

To address the issue of child injuries in England, researchers are to study the prevention of accidental injuries in pre-school children as part of a major £2m study ‘Keeping children safe at home’, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Every year nearly a million children die from unintentional or "accidental" injuries around the world. The vast majority of injuries occur in low-income and middle-income countries. However, even in high income countries like the UK, child injury is a major cause of death. In the UK in 2006, 271 children under 15 years died as a result of unintentional injury (220 in England and Wales, 25 in Scotland and 26 in Northern Ireland) and over 2 million are taken to hospital as a result of an injury – 1 in 5 of the child population.

In England accidental injury is the leading cause of death in one to four year olds, with falls, poisonings and burns and scalds being the most common injuries. The aim of the ‘Keeping children safe at home’ programme is to provide a better understanding of how to prevent accidental injuries in pre-school children and how to implement effective approaches for children and their families, working with Children’s Centres.

The five-year study, due to start in April 2009, involves a collaboration between leading centres for child accident research in England. The Nottinghamshire County Teaching Primary Care Trust is hosting the award and this forms part of their injury research programme. The involvement of experts from the Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, University of the West of England, Bristol, in collaboration with United Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, builds on a long track record of research on childhood injury prevention.

Professor Denise Kendrick, an expert in child safety at the University of Nottingham, is leading the research programme nationally. She explains, “This research will help us to understand the best ways of implementing accident prevention in the real world. Even when evidence is available, it is often not implemented widely.”

Professor Elizabeth Towner is leading the work to be conducted in Bristol. She is also an author of the overview chapter of the WHO World Report and an editor of the European report. She feels that poverty is a strand linking injuries wherever they occur in the world. She said, “Children from poorer families are significantly more likely to have injuries than those from more affluent families – we shall be exploring how and where injuries in the home occur and how best we can support families to keep their children safe.”

The multi-centre collaboration also involves experts from the University of Leicester, University of East Anglia, the University of the West of England, the University of Newcastle, the Child Accident Prevention Trust, Children's Centres and local acute NHS Trusts and Primary Care Trusts and members of the public.

Jane Kelly | alfa
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