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About SickKids

September 2, 2008

SickKids scientists confirm Ontario’s bike helmet law saves lives

Toronto – Using data spanning 12 years, researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) have established that the bicycle helmet law introduced in Ontario in 1995, has helped to make our children safer on the roads. According to research published this week in the journal Pediatrics by Dr. Patricia Parkin, SickKids Senior Associate Scientist, Director of the Paediatric Outcomes Research Team and Fellowship Program in Paediatric Medicine and Associate Professor, Department of Paediatrics, Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, and the Institute for Medical Sciences at the University of Toronto, the average number of bicycle-related deaths for children one to 15 years of age decreased 52 per cent – from 13 to six deaths annually.

"Our team understands the importance of bike helmets for safety," says Parkin, the study’s lead author. " We have previously shown a significant increase in children’s helmet use in our community. Our goal for this research was to demonstrate how bicycling deaths have been cut in half, and hopefully influence more Canadians - young and old - to wear helmets while cycling."

With 85 per cent of children owning bicycles in our community, safety is of the utmost concern. The researchers studied statistics from the years 1991 to 2002. This includes the pre-legislation period leading up to passing of the bicycle helmet law which came into effect in 1995, and several years post-legislation. The researchers used time series analysis to determine whether the introduction of legislation was associated with the reduction in the numbers of childhood deaths. Their analysis showed that legislation significantly reduced risks for bicycle riders. In contrast there was no significant change in bicycle-related deaths for older adolescents and adults to whom the legislation does not apply.

Ontario’s helmet law currently compels only individuals under age 18 to wear helmets. While education and promotion contributed to an increase in helmet use and subsequent decreases in deaths, the introduction of Ontario’s helmet law a key contributor to saving lives. Extending the law to cyclists of all ages is supported by this research.

The Paediatric Outcomes Research Team is supported by a grant from the SickKids Foundation.

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), affiliated with the University of Toronto, is Canada's most research-intensive hospital and the largest centre dedicated to improving children's health in the country. As innovators in child health, SickKids improves the health of children by integrating care, research and teaching. Our mission is to provide the best in complex and specialized care by creating scientific and clinical advancements, sharing our knowledge and expertise and championing the development of an accessible, comprehensive and sustainable child health system. For more information, please visit www.sickkids.ca. SickKids is committed to healthier children for a better world.

For more information, please contact:

Janice Nicholson
Public Affairs
The Hospital for Sick Children
Phone: 416-813-6684
Fax: 416-813-5328
email: janice.nicholson@sickkids.ca