Muscat: While home accidents involving children are a major cause of worry worldwide, in Oman, ‘falls’ account for the majority cases with toddlers being the highest vulnerable age group.
According to a report, 53.7 per cent cases of children brought to the emergency department of the Sultan Qaboos University Hospital accounted for injuries sustained from ‘falls’ at homes.
“There has been a high hospital prevalence of unintentional home accidents with 77 in 1,000 children brought to the emergency department of the hospital during the six-month period between January and June 2017”, points out the report based on a study in Oman Medical Journal.
Toddlers in the age group between 1 and 3 years accounted for the highest 27.8 per cent followed by preschoolers between 3 and 6 years old with 24.8 per cent.
Teenagers and infants accounted for 18.7 per cent and 8.9 per cent, respectively.
“The prevalence of home accidents increases during the first two years of life, reaching a peak at three to four years of age. This could be because children at this age are exploring the surroundings”, the study published in the January issue of the magazine reveals.
Additionally, children at this age spend most of their time at home compared to school-age children. Furthermore, toddlers and preschoolers are fragile as per their physical development.
According to the study, the prevalence of poisoning was very high among toddlers.
“It is apparent that the risk of poisoning home accidents increased with age as the prevalence increased with children aged one year and then increased further with children in the toddler age group. Yet, the prevalence of poisoning reduced as children got older”, points out the report.
Conducted jointly by Alya al Rumhi, Huda al Awisi, Mahmood al Buwaiqi, Salim al Rabaani, the researchers did a retrospective study among children up to the age of 18 years brought to the hospital between January and June 2017.
The study included those in the age up to these years because the Child Protection Law in Oman defines a child as “a human being below the age of 18 years old”. Therefore, According to the study, boys might be more prone to accidents as they are more physically active and adventurous compared to girls.
In addition, there are also some other factors found to affect children in their home environment, including the physical environment in the house, the knowledge and behaviour of the parents and other careers, overcrowding, and the availability of safety equipment in the home.
A total of 1,333 children were treated over six-month period as a result of unintentional home accidents, revealing the prevalence of 7.7 per cent in children who visited the emergency department of the hospital.
While there was a significant male to female ratio of 1.7:1, the most prevalent causes for home accidents were ‘falls’ in 716 cases accounting for the highest 53.7 percentage.
This was followed by ‘struck by/against-animate/inanimate mechanical force’ in 201 children accounting for 15.1 percentage.
‘Poisoning’ was the third major cause in 8.8 per cent children. Severity scale showed that around 36 per cent of the children suffered from severe injuries and 5.4 per cent were admitted to the hospital.
The nature of home accidents related injuries were severe for some children including head injury in 117 children (8.8 per cent), burn (35 children; 2.6 per cent), fracture (75 children; 5.6 per cent), poisoning (73 children; 5.5 per cent), and suffocation/choking (10 children; 0.8 per cent).
“There was an ‘other’ injuries category to define severity with 91 children accounting for 6.8 per cent. These injuries include abscess, tooth loss, amputation, bleeding, and muscle dissection,” the study points out.
Some were treated in the emergency department and discharged, while others had to be admitted to the hospital or transferred to other hospitals.
Children with motor vehicle accidents and children with home accidental injuries suspected to be related to domestic violence were excluded as they are not considered unintentional injuries.
Children with chronic medical conditions were also excluded from the study.
The report “Home Accidents among Children: A Retrospective Study at a Tertiary Care Center” in Oman calls upon educational groups, government organisations, policymakers, guardians, and parents to develop mechanisms and implement measures that are made mandatory to reduce and prevent home accidents among children.