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Child injuries on U.S. farms cost $1.4 billion a year

agricultureThe more than 26,000 injuries to children and teens on U.S. farms each year add up to costs of more than $1.4 billion, according to a new study.

The research published recently in the journal Pediatrics is based on 2001-2006 Childhood Agricultural Injury Surveys.

Although small in number -- 84 -- the fatal accidents accounted for $420 million. Researchers arrived at that figure by calculating lost wages and pain and suffering estimates. Costs involving first responders, property damage and mental health care following accidents were not taken into account.

"The cost of youth agricultural injury is substantial, comparable to the costs of more frequently discussed risks such as unintentional child poisoning or occupational needle stick injury," Eduard Zaloshnja of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Beltsville, Maryland, and colleagues report.

The severity of agricultural accidents, which often involve large machinery, dangerous chemicals or explosions, can be seen in hospitalization rates: fourteen percent of youth farm and ranch injuries led to hospitalization, as compared to just 1.4 percent of youth injuries overall in the U.S.

The fatal accidents were generally due to injuries from machinery, fire or explosions. Falls and transportation were the most common reasons for non-deadly injuries.

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