STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective descriptive study.
OBJECTIVES: To assess incidence, causes and early outcome of traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) among children in Sweden, thereby identifying high-risk groups and situations as a basis for preventative measures and improved care.
METHODS: Data from population registers, County Habilitation Centers as well as from informal sources were used to estimate the incidence of SCI in Sweden during the years 1985-1996 among children aged 0-15 years. Contacts with the treating hospitals, reviews of medical records and/or personal interviews were used to verify primary data. In total, 92 children were thus identified.
RESULTS: The incidence was found to be 4.6/million children/year (95% CI 3.6-5.5). When excluding prehospital fatalities, the incidence was 2.4 (95% CI 1.8-3.1). The main cause of injury among fatalities was traffic accidents. Associated injuries occurred in 41% of the children. Among survivors (10-15 years), sports-related injuries (43%) were as common a cause as traffic accidents (39%). The survivors were treated in 18 different hospitals.
CONCLUSION: Pediatric SCI in Sweden is rare, presumably because of effective primary prevention. Preventative measures should be further differentiated for each age group of children in accordance with their differing risk profiles. In contrast to the effective preventative measures that have been implemented in Sweden, care of these patients is still too fractionated and decentralized for sufficient specialization to emerge.
2003. Vol. 41, no 6, 328-36 p.