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Off-Road Motorcycle Injuries May Be On the Rise in Children

A total of 23,800 U.S. children injured riding off-road motorcycles in 2001-2004

FRIDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly 24,000 children and adolescents in the United States have been injured in recent years while riding motorcycles and dirt bikes off-road, and 70 percent of those injuries occurred in children under age 16, according to a report in the June 9 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The rate of non-fatal off-road motorcycle injuries to children aged 19 and under increased from 26.4 per 100,000 in 2001 to 35.3 per 100,000 in 2004, although the 33.7 percent increase was not statistically significant. Injuries that occurred while riding an off-road dirt bike, moped, minibike, motorcycle or motor scooter were included in the report, but not those associated with three- or four-wheeled all-terrain vehicles.

The data, from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System--All Injury Program, are derived from a national sample of 66 of the 5,400 U.S. hospitals equipped with emergency departments. Overall, 23,800 such injuries occurred between 2001-2004 in the United States, 88.4 percent of the injured riders were boys and 69.9 percent were under 16. Thirteen motorcycle riders under age 19 died off public roads in 2003 alone.

"Health care providers should counsel parents regarding the risks associated with children and teens riding any type of motorcycle and the benefits of helmet use," the authors write. Helmet laws and minimum age restrictions could also help prevent injuries.

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