Keep an eye on your children

By Lydia Anderson

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Last year 13,144 ACC injury claims were lodged for Northland kids aged 0-14, costing taxpayers $2,456,888.
Last year 13,144 ACC injury claims were lodged for Northland kids aged 0-14, costing taxpayers $2,456,888.

While Northland kids are having a blast these school holidays, the increased free time will likely see a spike in nasty accidents.

Last year 13,144 ACC injury claims were lodged for Northland kids aged 0-14, costing taxpayers $2,456,888. This was up from 12,787 claims the previous year at $2,686,554.

Nationwide 334,141 child injury claims were lodged during 2012, costing $63,901,699. Boys were the most accident-prone with 188,529 claims, compared to girls with 145,612 claims.

Whangarei Hospital ED nurse manager Margaret Dreadon said falls with broken bones and head injuries, fingers caught in doors, sunburn, cuts and bruises were just a few of the injuries children managed to inflict on themselves.

Trampolines, scooters and pushbikes all contributed to these injuries, most of which occurred when children were unsupervised or supervised by siblings who did not anticipate the risk.

"Supervise children always. Be aware of the danger in driveways and the speed at which even young children can move.

"Children are very inquisitive and take every opportunity to explore. They have very little fear of heights and young children especially babies topple over, falling easily."

Emergency department paediatric presentations were "pretty consistent" throughout the year across all illnesses at about 600 per month rising during August and September with the chest infections in the younger age groups, she said.

The majority of ACC child injury claims nationwide were for minor injuries.

Soft tissue injuries, such as bruises, strains and sprains, led to around 152,600 claims, while lacerations, puncture wounds and stings resulted in around 98,100 claims.

The next most common injury category was fractures and dislocations.

Other injuries included dental injuries, burns, "foreign body" in eye, and concussion.

ACC's Insurance and Prevention Services general manager John Beaglehole said many minor injuries happened during everyday, healthy play, so were simply part of childhood.

"Most kids love running and jumping around, which are all part of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, kids need to take some risks in order to learn. But at the same time, there are things you can do to help prevent injuries."

How parents went about this would depend on their child's age, he said.

"With preschoolers, it's basically up to parents and caregivers to manage their risks, by checking their environment and through good supervision. As kids get older, you still need to set boundaries, but it's also about helping them start to learn to manage risk sensibly themselves. That means talking to them about risks and being a good role model."

Starship Children's Hospital summer holiday admissions from 2008-2011 showed falls were the leading cause of injury in children between aged 0-14.

- Northern Advocate

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