Poor Children More Prone to Fatal Injuries, Israeli Study Says

The chance of a poor child dying of an injury is twice that of a middle-class child and 2.5 times that of an upper-class child.

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The accidental death rate of children in poorer locations is far higher than that in middle-class or wealthy communities, according to data collated by Beterem - Safe Kids in Israel on child mortality in 2013.

he chance of a poor child dying of an injury is twice that of a middle-class child and 2.5 times that of an upper-class child, the report states.

In 2013, 113 children died in accidents other than road accidents, an 8 percent drop compared to 2012, when 122 children suffered such deaths. Among Jews, there was a sharp drop in such deaths this year (41 instances in 2013 compared to an average of 62 deaths the previous two years), while in the Arab population the numbers remained steady at about 60 or so instances annually.

As in previous years, most child injuries, nearly 40 percent, occurred at home or in residential backyards or courtyards, while 37 percent occurred on the roads and 18 percent in public areas. But when it came to accidental deaths, 45 percent of child deaths occurred in road accidents, while 11 percent drowned, 8 percent choked to death, 5 percent died in falls, and 4 percent from poisoning or burns, while 15 percent died from various other causes. The causes of 12 percent of accidental child deaths were not known.

The number of children who died after being left in hot cars was five in 2013, compared to only two in 2012. More children also died after falling from heights, with eight such cases this year compared to four each in 2012 and 2011. But only 13 children drowned in 2013 compared to 16 in each of the previous two years.

An analysis of child accidental death statistics by region over the past six years showed the highest mortality rate in the north and the lowest in the Tel Aviv area. Among Jews, the highest rate was in Judea and Samaria (4.7 deaths for every 100,000 people) and lowest in the south (with 1.9 deaths per 100,000 people.)

Among Arabs, however, the highest mortality rate was in the south, with 18.5 deaths per 100,000, nearly 10 times the mortality rate among Jews in the south. Between 2008 and 2012, child deaths among the Bedouin in the south constituted 16 percent of all child deaths in Israel, even though Bedouin children are only 4.3 percent of the child population.

According to Beterem CEO Orly Silbinger, “these harsh statistics make it clear that in the State of Israel, poor children are more likely to die from accidents. There’s no doubt that the differences in mortality and injury between a poor child and one from a family of means stems from the daily struggle of families to earn a living. These circumstances make it difficult for parents to take steps to prevent injuries to their children and to keep them safe.”

Silbinger added, “I hope that next year we’ll see another substantial drop [in accidental deaths] and that there will come a time when there will be no accidental deaths of children to count.”

Illustration: Children in an Israeli classroom.Credit: Ilya Melnikov

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