June 1 (HealthDay News) -- One-third of children in the United States live more than an hour away by ground or air transport from a pediatric trauma center, an amount of time that could prove deadly in the event of a serious injury, researchers say.
In the United States, more children aged 1-14 die of injuries than of all other causes. Trauma centers improve the chances of survival for severely injured children, according to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia team who calculated access to trauma centers among children younger than 15.
They found that the United States has 170 verified pediatric trauma centers in 41 states (including the District of Columbia) and that 71.5 percent of children younger than 15 are within an hour of one of the centers by ground or air transport, while 43 percent could reach a trauma center within an hour by ground transport. However, about 17.4 million children couldn't reach a trauma center within an hour.
"Access ranged from 22.9 percent of the population in most rural areas of the United States to 93.5 percent in the most urban," wrote Dr. Michael L. Nance and colleagues. Among states, access ranged from more than 90 percent of children in 11 states to less than 25 percent in 12 states.
The findings appear in the June issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
"While this study does not directly address outcome from injury as it relates to pediatric trauma care access, it stands to reason that limited access may equate to suboptimal trauma care and a lower likelihood of survival," the researchers wrote.
"Several authors have demonstrated superior outcomes for children treated in designated pediatric trauma centers," they added.
The researchers noted that many injured children are treated at adult-focused trauma centers, which may lack child-specific personnel and equipment.
SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, June 1, 2009