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ACCIDENTS, CHILDHOOD'S GREATEST PHYSICAL THREAT, ARE PREVENTABLE

HARRY F. DIETRICH, M.D.
JAMA. 1950;144(14):1175-1179. doi:10.1001/jama.1950.02920140035008.
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After 1900, patient, painstaking and often brilliant work in the fields of public health and preventive medicine resulted in dramatic reductions in the morbidity and mortality of most infectious diseases; since 1936 the success of antibiotic therapy and chemotherapy in the most fearsome infections has resulted in even more miraculous reductions in mortality rates. Yet the very triumph of modern antibiotic and chemotherapeutic medicine has given new statistical significance to an old problem. Over 100 years ago Condie1 wrote, "Burns and scalds are among the most frequent accidents that occur.... The carelessness of parents and servants, the natural temerity and incautiousness of children... render these accidents of such frequent occurrence...." The recent precipitous decline in death rates from disease is in shocking contrast to the essentially unchanged death rate from accidents. Figure 1 tabulates the diminishing death rates from disease and the too constant death rate for accidents in

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