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December 1987

Falls in Urban ChildrenA Problem Revisited

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Pritzker Schooldicine (Drs M(DrsdMeller an se Divisionand the Division of Pediatrc Surgery, Wyler Children' Hospital (Dr Scermeta), The Univer--sity of Chicago.

Am J Dis Child. 1987;141(12):1271-1275. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1987.04460120033027

• Falls in the urban setting are a common cause for emergency room visits in children and adolescents. In a retrospective review, the charts of 48 patients admitted between 1980 and 1985 with a history of a vertical fall from a height were examined. In comparison, a previous review from the same institution disclosed that 66 patients were admitted because of a vertical fall from a height between 1965 and 1974, suggesting an increase of 37.5%. Most children fell from heights of 12 ft or less, although an increasing proportion of children in our series (33%) fell from heights of 36 ft or less. Sites included windows, walls, and roofs. The peak age of incidence has increased from 2 to 6 years; however, the mean age of children in whom significant injury occurred was 7.5 years, with only 27% of children under 3 years of age suffering a documented injury, as opposed to 67% of children over 3 years of age. Children are more apt to suffer a fracture than any other injury, most likely a fracture of the ulna and/or radius. Although hospital costs are high, mortality rates (2%) and the incidence of long-term sequelae (4%) are low. In conclusion, falls in the urban setting continue to be a significant public health Problem, particularly in the 6- to 7-year age group.

(AJDC 1987;141:1271-1275)