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Study identifies pediatric mortality rates by county across U.S.

Here in Houston, we have a selection of world-class hospitals and emergency medical facilities. When motor vehicle accidents involving serious injuries occur, skilled health care professionals with the best available equipment are just moments away.

Unfortunately, not everyone has access to modern trauma centers and emergency personnel. According to a new study, a child who is seriously injured in a motor vehicle collision in an area that is not in close proximity to emergency care has a diminished chance of survival.

The study by researchers in Massachusetts and Texas is the first to map at the local level the incidence of motor vehicle crash fatalities among children. Researchers found significant differences in mortality rates across the U.S. and even, in some cases, between neighboring counties.

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of child deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. More than 3,000 kids between the ages of 1 and 19 died in crashes in 2016.

Researchers studied pediatric deaths in car crashes on public roads between 2010 and 2015. The average age of the children killed in the crashes was 7.

The average annual mortality rate across the U.S. during that time period: 1.6 deaths per 100,000 children. The mortality rates by county across the nation had a low of 0.3 deaths per 100,000 kids to a high of 11.5.

Unfortunately, Texas is one of three states cited with abnormally high mortality rates, exceeding 4.5 fatalities per 100,000 children. Also named among the high states: New Mexico and Arizona. Low rates (below 0.8) were identified in California, Great Lakes states and the Northeast.

An article on the study shared the map researchers created, which shows the Houston area with a low mortality rate.

Hopefully, the information in the study will help decision-makers address emergency care needs in rural areas so that children and adults alike have improved chances of surviving motor vehicle wrecks.

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