Evaluation of Fractures in Children and Adolescents in a Level I Trauma Center in Austria

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Background:Injury represents a major concern for children and adolescents worldwide. It is estimated that 10% to 25% of all pediatric injuries will result in fractures. This study aimed to analyze the epidemiology, gender distribution, age, and circumstances of fractures in childhood in a Level I Trauma Center in Austria.Methods:Children managed with fractures between December 2004 and October 2006 were prospectively evaluated. Patients were divided into four age groups: infants (<1 year), preschool children (1–6 years), school-aged children (6–14 years), and adolescents (>14 years).Results:The study included 3,339 patients younger than 19 years, who presented with 3,421 fractures. There was a male predominance (61.3%, n = 2,096). Girls (38.7%, n = 1,325) had a lower mean age at presentation of 8.2 years (boys, 9.8 years). An increase in the incidences of fractures was observed until a peak of 11 years in girls and 12 years in boys. A majority of fractures occurred in sports facilities (34.7%), followed by those at home (17.6%) and outdoors (16.7%). The most frequent mechanisms were falls on level surface (41.9%), falls from a height <3 m (23.2%), and involuntary contact with persons or objects (18.2%). The most common fractures were those of the distal radius (15.3%), followed by those of the finger (14%) and distal forearm fractures (8%).Conclusion:As the Department of Pediatric Surgery in Graz serves as the referral center at least for nearly all major pediatric fractures in the Austrian state of Styria, mechanisms and patterns of major fractures in this study can serve as the basis for state-wide pediatric injury prevention efforts. These prevention strategies should not aim to reduce the level of exposure but should increase the risk awareness and encourage children and their parents to use necessary precautions.

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