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Alarming numbers of children's injuries this year in Latvia, doctors say

Child injuries are especially prevalent in the warmer months of this year, Latvian Radio reported August 5.

Children are most likely to experience different injuries during the warmer months of the year when they spend more time outdoors.  Emergency Medical Service (NMPD) said that between May and July this year, the number of children taken to hospitals with injuries was by a thousand higher than in 2019.

At Children's Clinical University Hospital (BKUS) from May to July, an average of 2,000 injuries a month were recorded. Compared to the same period in 2019, when there were no limits introduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number increased on average by 150 times a month.

Children's hospital surgeon Jānis Upenieks said: “The spectrum is vert broad. From banal bruises to very serious open fractures. Forced to be treated in the hospital. Then there is a long-term rehabilitation phase.”

Upenieks said that in the warmer months of this year, the number of injuries increased significantly because of the pandemic, the country had a long time of severe restrictions that prevented children from being active enough.

“It's a kind of ricochet effect. It's natural and normal for children to be active and running, and to do things. If they are being stalled all the time, then at the moment when the barriers are taken down, the energy overflows,” the surgeon said.

The NMPD said that children are most likely to experience injuries in road accidents and to fall from a height. Medics on calls mostly go to children under the age of three and to pupils under the age of 14.

Parent organization Mammām un tētiem, as well as camp organizer Kaspars Meļņikonis, think that the state should address the issue in a systematic, educational way.  “We should teach young people in schools to filter what they're doing. The country is pretty passive in working with young people in general. There are separate organizations working with young people. I also have my own community. We're working with young people. We do as much as we can do. If all this happened at national level, it would be much better and easier,” Meļņikonis said.

However, he believes that child injury in Latvia is not a problem: “Statistics are invariably high. (…) Yes, because children are children. They'll be looking around, running into things. They should wear armor in order to avoid it.”

The Ministry of Health said that children's injuries are a problem in Latvia. The ministry's spokeswoman Sanita Lazdiņa said that there are a number of educational activities in the country that explain safety rules to children. The Ministry has now also developed a policy planning document in which one of the objectives is to reduce child trauma by also addressing literacy. Educational lessons include European Union funding, which could be received in 2023.

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