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Epidemiology of Pediatric SCI


More extensive research has been conducted on SCI incidence and prevalence in children in Europe. In their study examining the medical records of 56 children with cervical spine injury (CSI) at a Level 1 trauma center, a group of researchers from Austria found that 54% of the patients with CSI were aged 8 years or younger, and 46% were between the ages of 9 to 16. In addition, it was revealed that injuries of the upper cervical spine were more prevalent in younger patients, whereas injuries of the lower level were more prevalent among older patients (Platzer et al. 2007).

Augutis and Levi (2003) examined the incidence of pediatric SCI among children 0-15 years of age in Sweden between 1985 and 1996 by analyzing the data from population registers, County Habilitation Centers, as well as from informal sources. The incidence was estimated to be 4.6/million children/year, and 2.4/million children/year, excluding prehospital fatalities. Among survivors of incidents leading to SCI, sports-related injuries were the most common cause of injury – making up 43% of SCI etiology (Augutis & Levi 2003). A UK-based study looked at the prevalence of spinal injury within the pediatric trauma population. Of the 19,538 children included in the UK Trauma Audit & Research Network Database from 1989 to 2000, the study found that 0.56% experienced SCI, and 0.15% sustained SCIWORA. Cord injury. It was also revealed that children under the age of eight were at higher risk of experiencing SCIWORA compared to older children (Martin et al. 2004).

In Finland, a review of the National Hospital Discharge Register including all spinal and spinal cord injuries in children under 18 years of age treated in hospitals between 1997 and 2006 was conducted.  The proportions of cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine injuries varied with age. The review found that 64% of spinal injuries in children below 8 years of age were cervical, while in the older children lumbar (42%) and thoracic spine injuries (33%) were more common. The incidence of spinal cord injuries averaged 1.9 per 10 children (Puisto et al. 2010).

Finally, Augutis et al. (2006) assessed the incidence of pediatric SCI in 19 European countries based on the survey responses from health professionals working with individuals with pediatric SCI (children between ages 0-14 years). Conclusive results were only identified for Portugal and Sweden, with the incidence of pediatric SCI (fatal injuries included) established, that is 27 children/million children/year and 4.6 children/million children/year experiencing SCI, respectively. For the other 17 countries, the estimated incidence of pediatric SCI (nonfatal injuries) varied from 0.9 to 21.2 children/million children/year (Augutis et al. 2006).

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