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Unintentional injuries in children and youth from immigrant families in Ontario, Canada: a population-based cross-sectional study

Saunders NR, Macpherson A, Guan J, Sheng L, Guttmann A. CMAJ Open. 2017; 5(1):E90-6.


Background — Unintentional injury is the leading cause of childhood death. Injury is associated with a number of sociodemographic characteristics, but little is known about risk in immigrants. Our objective was to examine the association between family immigrant status and unintentional injury in children and youth.

Methods — We performed a population-based, cross-sectional study involving children and youth (age 0-24 yr) residing in Ontario from 2008 to 2012. Multiple linked health and administrative databases were used to describe unintentional injuries by family immigrant status. Unintentional injury events (e.g., emergency department visits, admissions to hospital, deaths) were analyzed using Poisson regression models to estimate rate ratios (RRs) for injury by immigrant status.

Results — Annualized injury rates were 11 749 emergency department visits per 100 000 population, 267 hospital admissions per 100 000 population and 12 deaths per 100 000 population. Injury rates were lower among immigrants across all causes of unintentional injury (adjusted RR 0.56, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.54-0.59). Among nonimmigrants, lowest neighbourhood income quintile was associated with the highest rates (RR 1.13, 95% CI 1.08-1.18, quintile 5 v. 1); among immigrants, lowest income quintile was associated with the lowest rates of injury (RR 0.88, 95% CI 0.82-0.94, quintile 5 v. 1). Highest rates of injury for nonimmigrants were among adolescents (age 10-14 yr, RR 1.23, 95% CI 1.18-1.28; v. 20-24 yr), but for immigrants, was highest among young children (0-4 yr RR 1.23, 95% CI 1.16-1.31; v. 20-24 yr).

Interpretation — Rates of unintentional injury are lower among immigrant than among Canadian-born children, supporting a healthy immigrant effect. Socioeconomic status and age have different associations with injury risk, suggesting alternative causal pathways for injuries in immigrant children and youth.

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Keywords: Wounds and injuries Ethnicity and culture Social determinants of health

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