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Poverty linked to injury risk

A lower socioeconomic status dramatically heightens the risk of serious injuries among middle school students in Cambodia, a new study has found.

The study analysed a sample of about 3,800 Cambodian middle school children between 15 and 17 years of age to assess what makes injuries, such as breaking a leg or dislocating a joint, more likely.

It found students who experience poverty are also at higher risk for physical injuries, because, “it is possible that adolescents coming from a lower socioeconomic status may be more exposed to work injuries, and experience greater material deprivation”, leaving them more vulnerable to injury.

The study used hunger as an indicator of socioeconomic status, with 45 percent of the sample reporting “never” going hungry and just over 35 percent reporting “sometime/mostly/always” going hungry.

Those who never experienced hunger were no more likely than a control group to be seriously injured, while those in the latter group had a risk ratio nearly two and a half times higher. For multiple injuries, the hungry group’s ratio was nearly three and a half times higher. The most common causes for injuries were due to traffic accidents and falls.

Nget Thy, director of the Cambodia Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights, confirmed that there seemed to be a correlation between traffic accidents and poverty, arguing that richer children were often brought to school by car and better protected.

Moreover, he said that “sometimes [poorer families] don’t think too much about their future, and only think about how they can support their families and survive daily, so they take more risks”.

Ministry of Health and other government officials could not be reached yesterday.

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