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Hugh A. Carithers, M.D.
JAMA. 1955;159(2):109-111. doi:10.1001/jama.1955.02960190015005.
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Accidents have become the leading cause of death among children over one year of age.1 The prominence of accident mortality is due in part to the widespread use of chemotherapeutic agents and immunization procedures, which have helped control communicable diseases and many other acute infections in childhood. Pneumonia, diarrhea, and enteritis—at one time the commonest causes of death among young children— have been gratifyingly controlled. In fact, pneumonia, diarrhea, measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, scarlet fever, meningitis, and poliomyelitis, all combined, do not kill as many American children as do accidents.2 One-third of all deaths in children at the present time result from accidents, while in 1900 accidents caused only one-twentieth of the deaths occurring in childhood.3

There has been, in recent years, some reduction in deaths from accidents among children, but to a much less extent than from diseases (see figure). Since 1930 deaths from communicable diseases


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