Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Childhood and adult mortality from unintentional falls in India

Jagnoor Jagnoor, Wilson Suraweera, Lisa Keay, Rebecca Q Ivers, JS Thakur, Gopalkrishna Gururaj, Prabhat Jha & for the Million Death Study Collaborators

Objective

To estimate fall-related mortality by type of fall in India.

Methods

The authors analysed unintentional injury data from the ongoing Million Death Study from 2001–2003 using verbal autopsy and coding of all deaths in accordance with the International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, tenth revision, in a nationally representative sample of 1.1 million homes throughout the country.

Findings

Falls accounted for 25% (2003/8023) of all deaths from unintentional injury and were the second leading cause of such deaths. An estimated 160 000 fall-related deaths occurred in India in 2005; of these, nearly 20 000 were in children aged 0–14 years. The unintentional-fall-related mortality rate (MR) per 100 000 population was 14.5 (99% confidence interval, CI: 13.7–15.4). Rates were similar for males and females at 14.9 (99% CI: 13.7–16.0) and 14.2 (99% CI: 13.1–15.4) per 100 000 population, respectively. People aged 70 years or older had the highest mortality rate from unintentional falls (MR: 271.2; 99% CI: 249.0–293.5), and the rate was higher among women (MR: 281; 99% CI: 249.7–311.3). Falls on the same level were the most common among older adults, whereas falls from heights were more common in younger age groups.

Conclusion

In India, unintentional falls are a major public health problem that disproportionately affects older women and children. The contexts in which these falls occur and the resulting morbidity and disability need to be better understood. In India there is an urgent need to develop, test and implement interventions aimed at preventing falls.

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