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June 24, 2015

Report: Pa. children more likely to suffer fatal injuries than those in neighboring states

New Jersey has the third-lowest rate in the country

Pennsylvania children are more likely to suffer a fatal injury than children in New Jersey and New York, according to a report released by the nonprofit Trust for America's Health.

The report, titled "The Facts Hurt," examined injury fatalities nationwide between 2011 and 2013. It found that slightly more than 16 people per 100,000 under the age 20 died of injuries, a rate that exceeded every neighboring state but Ohio and West Virginia.

New Jersey, at a rate of 9.7 per 100,000, had the third-lowest injury fatality rate for children in the country.

The report defined injury broadly, including any bodily harm incurred by vehicular accidents, falls, fires, drownings, suffocations, poisonings, homicides, suicides and overdoses. 

The report found Pennsylvanians of all ages are more likely to suffer fatal injuries than any bordering state except West Virginia, which, at 97.9 deaths per 100,000, had the highest rate in the country. Pennsylvania's rate stood at 64.3 deaths per 100,000. New Jersey's was 44 deaths per 100,000.

The report also examined the rates of unintentional falls, drug overdoses, motor vehicle fatalities, suicide, homicide and child maltreatment. 

Pennsylvania and New Jersey are among 34 states and the District of Columbia that had a higher drug overdose rate than motor vehicle fatality rate. Pennsylvania, at 18.9 overdoses per 100,000, had the ninth-highest overdose rate. New Jersey, at 13.2 overdoses per 100,000, ranked 27th.

The report also graded each state on 10 injury prevention policies, such as a primary seat belt laws, which allows police to cite a driver without first having to ticket them for committing another violation. States received a point for each policy they have implemented.

New Jersey received a 7 score, only exceeded by New York and Delaware, which scored 9 and 8, respectively. Pennsylvania received a 4 score that bettered only 10 states.

Pennsylvania scored poorly for lacking a primary seat belt law, mandatory ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, a policy restricting teenagers from driving after 10 p.m. and a state prescription drug electronic database. Pennsylvania also had homicide and death-by-fall rates that exceeded the national goal established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

New Jersey also lacked a primary seat belt law, a state prescription drug electronic database and a policy restricting teens from driving after 10 p.m.

Both states received points for meeting booster seat standards, requiring children to use bicycle helmets, adopting state laws enabling naloxone in emergencies and having child abuse rates below the national rate.

New Jersey also received points for requiring mandatory ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers and having homicide and death-by-fall rates below the national goal.