Common causes of child accidents

July 2012

This article addresses the questions:

  • What are the most common causes of child death due to accidents?
  • What are the most common causes of child hospital admissions due to accidents?

Below we have tried to give an indication of the most common causes of death and hospital admission for children under the age of 15 in England.

It is worth noting that, although we have given an overview of the main causes of death across England, the causes can vary greatly depending on region and local area. We recommend you look more closely at the causes of death to children in your own local area when looking at accident prevention priorities. You can find information on this by contacting your regional Public Health Observatory, or talking to your local road or fire safety team.

Transport accidents

The table and chart below shows that by far the most common cause of accidental child deaths (under 15s) is transport accidents. These include air, sea, and rail accidents as well as car crashes, cycling accidents and pedestrian deaths. However, the number of accidents in air and on sea represent a very small proportion – the majority of transport accidents are ‘land transport’ which includes road, rail, pedestrian and cycle.

What are the most common causes of hospital admissions?

The causes of hospital admissions can vary greatly depending on the area that you live in. In order to get an accurate picture of the hospital admissions data for your area it is worth contacting your regional Public Health Observatory, or looking at the Hospital Episode System to see if there is detailed data on your region.

To give you an idea of the most common causes, the chart and table below gives a more detailed picture of four of the main causes of hospital admissions for the under 5s.

NB - Transport statistics

The chart below does not include numbers for hospital admissions due to transport accidents. If you would like more information on transport accidents, have a look at 'How many children and young people die on the roads?'

Cause of admission






Contact with heat and hot substances


Exposure to smoke, fire and flames



The information for the causes of death chart was taken from the Office for National Statistics, which carries data on all deaths in England. They in turn get the data from death certificates.

If you would like to find out more about this subject, you can access the data by visiting the causes of death on the ONS website.

Updated June 2013