Accidents Leading Cause of Death in Kids: Report

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In 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics' injury prevention committee presented him with the Fellow Achievement Award for that year, and in 2003, the Ohio chapter of the organization named Smith its state Pediatrician of the Year.

Getting There

Smith describes his path to clinic and public health as "a bit of a zigzag."

First, there was medical school in California, followed by residency in pediatrics, and all the while there was part-time work in clinics in Latin America, mostly in hospitals in rural Mexico. That work steered his interest in public health -- he was intrigued by the types of injuries that were less common in the states: goring by livestock, drownings -- so he pursued a master's and then a doctorate at Johns Hopkins.

Since he still wanted to practice medicine, he followed the DrPH with a fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine in Kansas City, Mo., but continued to work in Latin America when he could.

He finally landed at Nationwide Children's Hospital in 1990, and currently holds appointments in public health and medicine at Ohio State University.

"My goal is to keep one foot on the public health side and one foot in the clinical side, and bring both of those sides together," he said.

Barlow, who also operates in both worlds, said there's a need for bridges between the two.

"Public health specialists do the data, but doctors see what happens to children who are injured," she said. "We have a passion. Dealing with the injured children makes a huge difference. Then, with data, we can see what problems there are and what's associated with them, so we can focus our work on the ground."

Barlow's efforts on the ground led to New York enacting its law on window guards in the late 1970s, which holds landlords and homeowners responsible for installing the safety devices.

Future Efforts

The childhood injury prevention community is "a little fragmented," Smith said, noting that one challenge is to "figure out a way to pull all of the disparate groups together, so we can sing with one voice."

Smith said a 2008 report on injury prevention in children from the WHO helped bring much-needed attention to the issue with its alarming find that more than 2,000 children around the world die every day in accidents that could easily be prevented.

Still, he said, there's much work to be done to lower the rate of injuries among children.

"Arguably, it's the most compelling, and certainly the deadliest, public health problem facing children in our country," he said. "Our goal is to get injuries down to a low level. It's just a matter of political will and deciding that this is something that's a priority."

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