What Are the Common Causes of Child Fatalities?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 March 2020
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Some of the most common causes of child fatalities occur due to severe burns, falling from a high structure, and suffocation. Children are also at risk of drowning and accidental poisoning. Burns and falling tend to be the leading causes of accidental fatal injuries. Choking and suffocation happens less often, but children under five are most at risk of dying from these occurrences due to improper bedding, small toys, and squeezing into small spaces that cannot be escaped from. Drowning and poisoning happen even less often than suffocation, but backyard swimming pools and chemicals within reach kill thousands of children every year.

The leading cause of child fatalities is usually injury by accident. These injuries are often either sustained in the home or during transportation. In lesser cases, the child is injured in a homicide or the nature of the injury is undetermined. Boys are more likely to sustain injuries in the home than girls. Children under the age of three are more likely to become fatally injured by accident than an older child.


Severe burns and injuries by falling from tall heights are some of the top reasons for child fatalities. Burns are usually acquired from house or automobile fires. Injuries by falling are often acquired by falling from stairs or banisters, open windows, or other tall structures in or around the home. Sometimes these events can be prevented by supervising the child, but other times the cause is complicated or the fault of a drunk driver or equally unpredictable occurrence.

Suffocation is a problem for young children, particularly children young enough to get stuck somewhere. Choking on toys or parts of clothing can also lead to suffocation. These child fatalities can be prevented by paying attention to warning labels on toys and forbidding children to play in car trunks, old refrigerators, or other small areas with a limited air supply.

Drowning and poisoning can also happen at any age, but like most child fatalities, it happens more often to young children. Backyard swimming pools should be gated and locked, and the child should be supervised by an adult during swim time. Teaching a child to swim early on can help reduce the likelihood of drowning, though it is still possible. Cleaning supplies, vitamins, and prescription drugs should be locked away out of the child’s reach to prevent poisoning or overdose. Even all natural cleaning supplies or vitamins that are usually healthy for a body cannot be consumed in large doses without major consequences.


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