NCHS: Poisonings Are Leading Cause of Injury Deaths

In 2008, poisoning deaths were main cause of injury death, with almost 90 percent due to drugs

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- From 1980 to 2008, the number of poisoning deaths increased almost six-fold, and became the leading cause of injury deaths (death attributable to a force external to the body), according to research published online Dec. 20 by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Margaret Warner, Ph.D., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Md., and colleagues investigated trends from 1999 to 2008 for poisoning deaths and drug poisoning deaths, and examined the types of drugs involved in these deaths.

The investigators report that, in the United States in 2008, poisoning was the leading cause of injury death. Almost 90 percent of poisoning deaths are attributed to drugs, with the number of drug poisoning deaths increasing from 6,100 in 1980 to 36,500 in 2008. The proportion of all drug poisoning deaths involving opioid analgesics increased from 25 percent in 1999 to 40 percent in 2008, with the number of cases increasing from approximately 4,000 to 14,8000. The drug poisoning death rate was higher for males than females, for individuals aged 45 to 54 years than other ages groups, and for non-Hispanic white and American Indian or Alaska Natives than for individuals from other racial and ethnic groups.

"In 2008, the number of poisoning deaths exceeded the number of motor vehicle traffic deaths and was the leading cause of injury death for the first time since at least 1980," the authors write. "Using a comprehensive, multifaceted approach, it may be possible to reverse the trend in drug poisoning mortality."

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