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Swings and roundabouts: Why playgrounds are most dangerous place to take your child

One in three injury hospitalisations among Australian children and young people are caused by a fall, with playground equipment the main culprit.

Apr 18, 2024, updated Apr 18, 2024

A new repport has found that children's playgrounds are the most dangeroous place to take them. Photo: ABC

A new repport has found that children's playgrounds are the most dangeroous place to take them. Photo: ABC

A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows there were 603,675 emergency department (ED) presentations and 88,766 injury hospitalisations among children and adolescents in 2021/22.

That represents 28 per cent of all ED presentations and 8.3 per cent of hospitalisations.

There was a 14 per cent spike in the age-standardised rate of injury hospitalisations among children and adolescents (from 1477 to 1686 per 100,000) between 2019/20 and 2020/21.

But the latest data, released on Thursday, shows rates have returned to trend (1497 per 100,000).

Boys made up most of the cohort’s injury ED presentations (58 per cent) and hospitalisations (61 per cent).

Poisoning or toxic effects was the only type of injury in which girls were more likely than boys to be hospitalised.

Falls caused the highest number of injury hospitalisations (29,000 cases), followed by contact with objects (17,400 cases) and transport (12,000 cases).

“Playground equipment was the most common cause of falls amongst children, with hospitalisation rates being highest among children aged five to nine years,” institute spokeswoman Heather Swanston said.

Sport and active recreation contributed to 21 per cent of injury hospitalisations and more than a third (36 per cent) of injury hospitalisations were for fractures.

Children are at greater risk of certain injuries according to their developmental stage, the institute said.

The most common injuries diagnosed at an ED for children under nine were head injuries.

Infants had the highest rate of injury hospitalisations caused by choking and suffocation, with inhaled food being the most common cause.

Children aged one to four had the highest rate of injury hospitalisations caused by drowning and submersion, and were most likely to drown or have a near-drowning experience in a swimming pool.

The 16 to 18 age bracket had the highest rates of injury hospitalisation overall.

The report does not include child and adolescent injury cases treated by general practitioners, allied health professionals or outpatient clinics.

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