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AAP: Helmet Use Low in Kids' Involved in Bike Accidents
Children over age 12 and of minority, lower socioeconomic status less likely to wear helmets

TUESDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Just over 10 percent of children involved in bicycle-related accidents are wearing helmets at the time, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, held from Oct. 26 to 29 in Orlando, Fla.

Veronica F. Sullins, M.D., from the University of California Los Angeles, and colleagues reviewed all pediatric patients involved in bicycle-related accidents utilizing the Los Angeles County database from 2006 to 2011.

The researchers identified 1,248 children involved in bicycle-related accidents (median age, 13 years; 64 percent male). Race/ethnic differences were seen in the percentage of patients who wore helmets (whites, 35.2 percent; Asians, 7.0 percent; blacks, 6.0 percent; Hispanics, 4.2 percent). The percentage of helmet wearers also differed by socioeconomic level as represented by insurance status (private insurance, 15.2 percent; public insurance, 7.6 percent). Helmets were less likely to be worn by children over the age of 12 (odds ratio, 0.7). Overall, nine patients died, eight of whom were not wearing a helmet. Median length of stay was two days and median injury severity score (ISS) was 5. Only higher ISS increased the risk of emergency surgery, mortality, and length of hospital stay.

"Our study highlights the need to target minority groups, older children, and those with lower socioeconomic status when implementing bicycle safety programs in Los Angeles County," Sullins said in a statement.

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