CDC Celebrates Progress in Injury Prevention

May 29, 2002
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will mark a decade of progress in injury prevention and the establishment of its National Center for Injury Prevention and Control with a series of meetings in June.

Regional injury prevention workshops will be held in Baltimore, Boston, Denver and Los Angeles.

Injury is the leading killer of Americans in the first four decades of life. Violent and unintentional injuries cause more than 146,000 deaths each year and cost an estimated $260 billion annually (in 1995 dollars). Treatment of injuries and their long-term effects account for 12 percent of medical spending in the United States.

"A decade ago, CDC recognized injury as a top public health concern and formed a center to focus on these problems," said David Fleming, M.D. MPH, acting director of CDC. "Today, our injury prevention work is an integral part of our work to protect the nation's health. Our efforts are making a real difference in keeping Americans safer."

Since 1992 when CDC established the Injury Center to consolidate federal support for injury surveillance and research, the center has:

Prevented injuries and deaths from residential fires by conducting research and developing programs reaching more than 7.5 million people at risk with proven information about the effectiveness of installing and maintaining smoke alarms. CDC funded research showed that when local firefighters installed alarms in homes, the alarms were properly installed and worked. However, when homeowners were given a voucher for an alarm and asked to install it themselves, the alarms were often not installed or didn't work. This research also led to the development of a long-lasting lithium-powered battery with a hush button. CDC and its partners, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the U.S. Fire Administration, have issued a national challenge to eliminate deaths from residential fire by 2020.

Shed new light on non-traditional risk factors related to suicide. A recent CDC study found that nearly 1 in 4 of those who made nearly lethal suicide attempts reported that less than 5 minutes passed between their decisions to attempt suicide and their actual attempts, indicating impulsive attempts.

Contributed to the development of crash-test dummies that are similar in size to children and women through its program to fund university research.

Established 11 injury control research centers and 10 academic centers of excellence in youth violence prevention at colleges and universities throughout the United States. These centers conduct research to determine the causes of injuries and how to prevent them and also train new scientists for the injury field.

"At CDC, we work with a network of partners to research the causes of injuries and identify ways of keeping people safe from harm," said Sue Binder, M.D., director of CDC's Injury Center. "State and local health workers can use our data, tools and specialized expertise to make these programs even more effective."

The four events slated for June highlight successes in injury prevention fostered by CDC injury research and state program funding. Events will feature injury prevention experts in the fields of youth violence, suicide, motor vehicles, drowning and other types of injury.

  • Denver - June 6 - Injury Prevention Focus: Motor vehicle passenger safety.
  • Los Angeles - June 13 - Injury Prevention Focus: Family violence.
  • Boston - June 19 - Injury Prevention Focus: Suicide.
  • Baltimore - June 20 - Injury Prevention Focus: Preventing unintentional injuries through community programs.

CDC established the Injury Center in 1992 in response to a national call from Congress, the Institute of Medicine and injury prevention researchers and other advocates. They called for a consolidated federal approach to supporting injury research, collecting and analyzing data related to injury in America, providing for professional education and development, and convening federal and private organizations with an interest in injury prevention. The new center helped define the field of injury prevention by uniting research and program support for unintentional injuries, violent injuries, and acute care and rehabilitation associated with injury.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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