Pediatrics by the Numbers: Putting Our Time Where It Works Best

L. Gregory Lawton, MD


June 04, 2018

The Take-aways

Periodically, a parent or a patient will inquire as to why I am asking about a certain part of anticipatory guidance. My go-to answer is "because a 15-year-old is more likely to die in a car crash or from a gun than from colon cancer." I then go on to explain that most of what kills a kid (beyond the first year of life, when congenital anomalies claim the most lives) is preventable (unintentional injuries, suicide, homicide). For the true wonk, the CDC provides specific information about childhood injuries and deaths.

This article is not intended to be an exhaustive review of childhood mortality. It's sufficiently difficult to try to match ages with studies for various conditions. Rather, it is meant as a mental exercise. Are we really using our anticipatory guidance time most efficiently?

Let’s continue to look at the research and go where it leads. Deaths due to cancer and related to sleep position have declined because of research.

As advocates for children, let's continue to work for, both in and out of the office, the causes and politicians we support in order to advance our philosophy of childhood welfare. Laws regarding motor vehicle safety and medication packaging have reduced deaths. Apply that logic to laws related to firearms. How many more lives could be saved with smart legislation?

Finally, have confidence that our patients really do listen to us. Pediatricians have credibility. Use it wisely, based on the numbers.

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