ALTHOUGH pediatricians have always been concerned, as individuals, with the problem of child safety, the intense interest of the American Academy of Pediatrics in accident prevention dates back only to 1950. At that time, the spectacular conquest of the common childhood diseases during the previous three decades had forced a remarkable drop in the mortality rate from disease, whereas, in sharp contrast, decrease in the accident death rate had remained alarmingly slow—in fact, almost static (Figs. 1 and 2). This has focused attention and renewed emphasis on the still formidable problem of accidents, aptly described by Dietrich as childhood's greatest killer. Then, as now, accidents were the leading cause of death among children 1 to 14 years of age, accounting for fully one-third of all deaths at the elementary-school ages, and causing untold crippling, suffering and disability (Table I).
NEW NATIONAL COMMITTEE SETS ITS OBJECTIVES
When these facts were demonstrated to the Executive Board of the American Academy of Pediatrics, it established for the first time, in 1950, a Committee on Accident Prevention with Dr. George M. Wheatley serving ably as chairman.
The Committee adopted three broad approaches in its attack on accidents of childhood: education, engineering, and legislation. Physicians caring for children were to be alerted to the magnitude of the accident problem and encouraged to educate parents by pointing out specific hazards and initiating safety training of children. The Committee was to work with strategic groups, such as the American Standards Association, toward developing manufacturing standards for minimizing accidents involving such products as children's toys, clothing and furniture.
- Copyright © 1958 by the American Academy of Pediatrics