Infant injuries treated at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

K. K. Storm*, M. van Dijk, A. B. van As

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background. Infants are entirely dependent on their caregivers, especially <6 months old when they are not yet mobile. While the epidemiology of injury among children in general has been described, the exact causes of infant injury have never been investigated in South Africa (SA). Objective. To describe causes of injury in infants aged <12 months, stratified for the four quarters of the first year of life, in order to identify opportunities for targeted prevention strategies based on local data. Methods. This retrospective audit study used data collected by ChildSafe SA from the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, SA, over a 4-year period from January 2013 to December 2016. Infants <1 year of age presenting to the hospital’s trauma casualty department were included. Additionally, mortuary data on traumatic infant deaths in the hospital’s catchment area were collected. Results. A total of 2 279 injured infants were identified. More than half were male (55%; n=1 250) and the median age was 8 months (interquartile range 5-10 months). Leading causes of injury were falls (42%; n=957) and burns (32%; n=736). A significant association between the age group and the cause of injury (p<0.001) was found. From 2014 to 2016, an additional 27 infants were traumatically injured and died before arriving at the hospital. Conclusion. Falls and burns are a significant contributor to the burden of infant injuries in Cape Town. This underlines the urgent need for targeted prevention strategies to improve safety, taking poverty into account.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-98
Number of pages6
JournalSAJCH South African Journal of Child Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

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