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June 26, 2018

Data reveals the risks of ATV use for children and youth

Paediatricians across Canada reported cases of serious injuries and death in new survey from SickKids

TORONTO, ON – In advance of the first long weekend of the summer, paediatricians from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) are warning parents of the dangers all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) can pose to youth under 16. SickKids led a team of researchers from Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia to develop a survey of paediatricians and paediatric sub-specialists across Canada. The results, published in Paediatrics and Child Health on June 20, estimate the national rate of serious injuries and deaths related to ATV use.

Over 900 physicians responded to the survey reporting 181 cases of serious and/or fatal ATV-related injuries, including six deaths, over a 12-month period. Children aged 10 to 14 represented the most number of cases (45.3 per cent), followed by youth aged 15 to 19 (26.5 per cent). Most cases (48.3 per cent) occurred in the summer months of July and August.

“The reality is, just like any vehicle, ATVs are machines. When children are operating them, they’re essentially sitting on engines,” says Dr. Peter Gill, paediatric resident at SickKids and lead author of the study. “The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends youth under 16 should not be permitted to operate off-road vehicles including ATVs and snowmobiles. Families who may be heading out of the city for weekend getaways or those who regularly ride ATVs need to take this information to heart.”

Although many who are opposed to specific age restrictions cite important purposes of ATVs such as farming and transportation, the survey found 83.2 per cent of ATV-related injuries and deaths were due to recreational use. The results also showed the rate of injuries varied according to provinces. Most paediatricians who reported cases of ATV-related injuries practiced in provinces without legislated safety training for children, including Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. All but one death was reported by physicians practising in these provinces.

“The benefit of doing a survey such as this one is that we can get input from front-line clinicians who are encountering ATV-related injuries in daily practice,” explains Gill. “As we conducted the survey, we became informed of several paediatric ATV-related deaths that were unknown to the coroner in Ontario. This could be a useful, unexplored method to identify these cases.”

The researchers point to their findings as evidence that a successful injury reduction strategy requires a robust commitment to legislation and enforcement, engineering modifications of ATVs, and public education activities.

This study was funded by the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program (CPSP) and is an example of how SickKids is working to make Ontario healthier, wealthier and smarter (www.healthierwealthiersmarter.ca).

About The Hospital for Sick Children
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is recognized as one of the world’s foremost paediatric health-care institutions and is Canada’s leading centre dedicated to advancing children’s health through the integration of patient care, research and education. Founded in 1875 and affiliated with the University of Toronto, SickKids is one of Canada’s most research-intensive hospitals and has generated discoveries that have helped children globally. Its mission is to provide the best in complex and specialized child and family-centered care; pioneer scientific and clinical advancements; share expertise; foster an academic environment that nurtures health-care professionals; and champion an accessible, comprehensive and sustainable child health system. SickKids is proud of its vision for Healthier Children. A Better World. For more information, please visit www.sickkids.ca. Follow us on Twitter (@SickKidsNews) and Instagram (@SickKidsToronto).

Media contact:
Jessamine Luck
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)
416-813-7654 ext. 201436
jessamine.luck@sickkids.ca