Hyperthermia deaths among children in parked vehicles: an analysis of 231 fatalities in the United States, 1999–2007
- 609 Downloads
Motor vehicle-related child hyperthermia fatalities (MVRCHF) have risen slightly in the past decade, but little research has been done investigating the circumstances surrounding MVRCHF. In order to address gaps in our understanding, the current study describes MVRCHF circumstances among children <1–14 years of age in the United States from 1999 to 2007. Three sources were used to identify child hyperthermia death cases in the United States from 1999 to 2007: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Compressed Mortality File (1999–2004), the Golden Gate Weather Service’s public MVRCHF database (2003-Present), and an independent internet search. Data about the victim’s characteristics and the circumstances surrounding the death were extracted. From 1999 to 2007, 231 MVRCHF were identified. Children were left unattended in >80% of cases, 25% of victims were playing at the time of death, and 60% were male. On average, the core body temperature was 107.2°F after being left inside the vehicle for an average of 4.6 h. The largest number of deaths occurred in the South, followed by the West, Midwest, and Northeast. Parents were found to be accountable for 2/3 of the hyperthermia deaths. The geographic distribution of incidence may be attributable to two major influences: (1) regional climate differences; and (2) population characteristics. The accountability of parents for MVRCHF is likely due to the exposure-risk concept, in which the situation/circumstances increase the injury probability.
KeywordsHyperthermia Vehicle-related child hyperthermia Child hyperthermia Hyperthermia fatalities Hyperthermia death Child death
This project was not funded or supported by any outside agency.
- 1.Accidental deaths of children in US decline. In: Reuters foundation AlertNet: alerting humanitarians to emergencies. 2008. http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N28500260.htm. Accessed 6 May 2008.
- 2.WISQARS leading causes of death report, 1999–2005. In: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 2008. http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/leadcaus10.html. Accessed 6 May 2008.
- 3.Null J. Hyperthermia deaths of children in vehicles. San Francisco State University, Department of Geosciences and Golden Gate Weather Services. 2007. http://ggweather.com/heat/. Accessed 15 Dec 2007.
- 10.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Compressed mortality file 1999–2004. CDC WONDER On-line Database, compiled from Compressed Mortality File 1999–2004 Series 20 No. 2J. 2007. http://wonder.cdc.gov/cmf-icd10.html. Accessed 5 Nov 2007.
- 11.National Centers for Health Statistics definitions: geographic region and division. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2008. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/datawh/nchsdefs/region.htm. Accessed 6 May 2008.
- 12.Climate atlas of the United States [CD ROM]. National Climatic Data Center: US Department of Commerce. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 2006. http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/about/cdrom/climatls2/info/atlasad.html. Accessed 6 May 2008.
- 14.National SAFE KIDS Campaign (NSKC). Childhood injury fact sheet. Washington (DC): NSKC; 2004.Google Scholar
- 15.Collins JM. Crime and parenthood: the uneasy case for prosecution of negligent parents. Legal Studies Paper No. 05-08. NC: Wake Forest University Press. 2005. http://ssrn.com/abstract=673451. Accessed 15 Dec 2007.
- 16.Pleck JH. Paternal involvement: levels, sources, and consequences. In: Lamb ME, editor. The role of the father in child development. Hillsdale: Erlbaum; 1997.Google Scholar
- 18.Heat-related deaths—United States, 1999–2003. Morbidity and mortality weekly report (MMWR). 2006;55(29). http://www.cdc.gov/mmwR/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5529a2.htm. Accessed 4 May 2008.